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Rockets owner Leslie Alexander wants Clippers’ players to become free agents

Apr 29, 2014, 9:33 AM EDT

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The NBA’s constitution is definitely secret and probably intentionally vague, but the common opinion seems to be Adam Silver can’t force Donald Sterling to sell the Clippers.

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander agrees with that interpretation, so when speaking with Silver, Alexander suggested his own idea for consequences.

Alexander, via Jonathan Feigen of Ultimate Rockets:

“I thought that there’s got to be a way to disrupt him from owning the team,” said Alexander, who after 20 years owning the Rockets is one of the longest tenured owners in the NBA. “I gave him the sword to deal with this. I said, ‘Let the players become free agents.’”

Alexander said the goal of his suggestion was not to break up the Clippers, considered among the league’s top teams, or even to punish Sterling. He said the objective was solely to back Sterling into a corner from which he will choose to sell the Clippers.

Alexander said he did not know what Silver would announce on Tuesday and that Silver did not say what actions he was considering, but did say that he would look into the feasibility and ramifications of Alexander’s suggestion.

“He listened to it,” Alexander said. “He said he hadn’t heard that before. He said to me, ‘You always give me a novel idea that I haven’t heard before.’ He told me he would look at it and see what the professionals around him think.”

I would be shocked if the NBA gave the Clippers’ players the option of becoming free agents early. Absolutely shocked. (Though not shocked the consensus-building Silver made Alexander feel heard.)

When noting the league doesn’t have broad power to remove Sterling as owner, I acknowledged Adam Silver and the other owners could always decide to risk acting outside the bounds of the NBA constitution and dare Sterling to sue. That could swiftly push out Sterling, and even if it might come at a great cost later, it could be worthwhile.

But voiding the Clippers’ contracts prematurely? Not only would that not remove Sterling, it would hand him a lawsuit on a silver platter. If the NBA is willing to expose itself to a Sterling lawsuit in order to achieve other aims, one them will be removing Sterling. The league won’t risk a lawsuit just to make Matt Barnes a free agent.

Beyond pragmatism, the NBA just shouldn’t do it.

The owner of an appealing team that might have cap space this summer wants Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to become free agents? You don’t say.

From Mark Jackson angling for a road game with no fans present to Magic Johnson potentially trying to buy the the team (he denies it) to Alexander, the sharks are circling. Their mark, Sterling, is wholly unsympathetic, but Alexander ought to cover up a little better. His self-interest is showing.

  1. miamatt - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    He just wants all those high flying Clippers to come running into his loving arms.

    • stayhigh_247 - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      Especially since they don’t look like they can even beat an egg with this current lineup.

  2. phillyguyindc - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    I don’t think the other owners neccessarily want Sterling to be forced to sell the team because that sets a precedent that they could be forced to sell if found in a precarious situation.

  3. campcouch - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    or better yet,place them on the waiver wire so all the bad teams get first dibs at the players. only fair lol.

  4. chunkala - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    After all these overreactions from fans, owners, ESPN personalities, why don’t we just force him to fold his team, and kick him out of the country. Jeez.

    • knickshater - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      Sounds like a plan.

  5. azarkhan - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    He said to me, ‘You always give me a novel idea that I haven’t heard before.’

    Novel because it’s stupid and self-serving?

  6. breesus09 - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    All these players knew who they signed up to play for. It’s not like this is his first or worse incident that he has been involved in. None of the players or coaches had a problem signing the contract to play for a known racist. A guy that’s been a pretty well documented racist in the past did something racist & everyone is shocked & appalled. I’m not buying it. They are just scared of losing endorsements or looking bad now bc they didn’t have a problem with Sterling before

  7. santolonius - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    the agent of change that could actually force don sterling out of the league is the STAPLES CENTER. because of the racism and because sterling specifically discusses black people not being welcome at the games, the staples center could void its lease with the clippers as long as sterling is owner because he is toxic to their brand and business. without a venue to play basketball, the clippers would be in an existential crisis that would justify the league literally seizing the team for the good of scheduling against 29 other teams. someone start poking around the staples center angle and you will get a great story.

  8. redbaronx - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Nice try Mr. Alexander! I bet you’d want to fleece the Clippers dry of their talent!

  9. watermelon1 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    This isn’t that complicated. If the players REALLY cared… They’d all agree to just not play until something happens.

    But the truth is, whole they’ll do a pony show stripping off white shirts… They don’t really care what an owner thinks. They just want their money.

    And THIS is the issue that you all are perpetuating. It’s not about race. It’s about rich people thinking they can get away with anything.

    Want to force the NBA’s hand? Players need to refuse to finish these playoffs. The league will be in a panic and definitely have to take action against sterling if they want their previous postseason to continue.

    • jasper36 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      I agree 100% if it was so important the Clippers players they wouldn’t have protested quietly. With the whole shirt thing, why not say what you feel at this point? The owner has, so the players shouldn’t be afraid.

  10. riccismiles - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Couldnt the NBA help the players sue the Clippers for “hostile work environment” AND the NBA could make the Free Agent play.
    These two things combined could lead to Sterling SELLING or becoming wholly irrelevant again.

  11. djshnooks - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    The NBA is turning into a joke.

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