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Report: Donald Sterling’s lawyers say they have gotten offers in excess of $2.5 billion for Clippers

May 27, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

Donald Sterling Donald Sterling

As with all things Donald Sterling, we start with this cautionary note: Take everything he and his people say with a grain of salt. Actually, a five-pound bag of the stuff. The smart move is to assume everything is a stalling tactic or an effort to somehow gain some measure of control over what is going on.

But on the day Sterling has to answer the NBA’s charges against him in the league’s effort to force a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, his attorney dropped this, via NBC’s Los Angeles.

While there has been buzz that with all the big names involved in the bidding the price was going to get north of $1.5 billion and up to $2 billion, this is still an eye-popping number.

Again, if I were cynical I would say this was an effort from Sterling’s attorney to slow the league’s process down and maintain control as his wife Shelly tries to sell the team. The old dazzle them with big numbers trick.

Actually, I am cynical about this, I think that is what is going on.

I also know the league is not slowing down its effort.

In the wake of the fallout from a leaked recording of Donald Sterling saying very prejudiced things — and sponsors pulling out as a result — the NBA started the process to remove him as owner of the Clippers. The league presented formal charges against Sterling last week and through their constitutional process — something Sterling and his wife agreed to and signed off on more than once — he has until Tuesday midnight to respond.

On June 3 there will be a Board of Governors meeting (the other 29 owners) where Sterling and his attorney can make their case, and the league will present its case. After that, if three quarters of the owners vote to remove Sterling he is gone, as is any other owner of the team — in this case his wife Shelly Sterling. At that point the league would take control of the franchise and sell the team through a blind bid process (Sterling would get the money from that sale, minus any fines and league expenses).

The league is not slowing down. No matter how much money Sterling’s attorney says is being offered — the league would get that same offer when it sold the team.

  1. jattsoorma - May 27, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    with all of the huge names (Ballmer,Ellison,Opera/Magic) being involved, and the glamour market of LA tied into a team with young superstars and winning for the forseable future, I think a number like 2.5 billion isnt completely crazy.

    • muathjam21 - May 27, 2014 at 8:29 PM

      It’s crazy considering the Clippers’ valuation was set at 575mil. That’s almost FIVE times as much.

      That said, a commodity’s true value is what the market is willing to pay for it – and clearly the Clippers are worth more. An interesting note though is the fact that the Clippers are the 13th most valued team. How much would a team like the Knicks – valued #1 – fetch?

      • sportsfan18 - May 28, 2014 at 1:20 AM

        When doing due diligence and looking at financials, a business is only “worth” a price if it consistently makes money and if one pays north of $1 Billion for a business, it will have to clear a lot of profit in order to make a good return on investment…

        Even $100 million in PROFIT each year would still take 10 years and very few, if any, teams clear that kind of profit per season…

        So,it would take 20 yrs to get one’s money back at $50 million in profit per season…

        It’s hard, even for very rich people to have to borrow and/or pay so much for something and NOT have it return profit for them…

        Servicing the debt on a billion plus worth of loans costs a lot of money, money that digs into profits…

        But the thing with owning a pro sports team is the cache of owning it, of being seen and known, of rubbing elbows with stars etc…

        People don’t overpay so much for regular businesses as they have to be able to get their money back.

      • bougin89 - May 28, 2014 at 2:20 PM


        Where the owners make the most money is buying it at $X price, holding onto it for a while, and selling it for $3X price.

        Sterling paid something like $12 million(I’m not going to look up the exact amount due to laziness) for the Clippers way back when. He sells now for $1 billion.

        That’s where the real profit is.

  2. mrlaloosh - May 27, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    “The league is not slowing down”…?
    The “league” has know about this despicable human being for decades and, now, they’re not slowing down? Phonies and hypocrites of the first order. I’m looking at you, Adam Silver.

  3. dvic13 - May 27, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Well, if you didn’t believe how serious inflation is before…

  4. ProBasketballPundit - May 27, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    @jackntorres Hey jack@$$, where are you now? You called me drunk for saying $1.8 billion. Maybe now you’ll bow down and kiss the ring like you should have.

    • m4a188 - May 27, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      Damn that’s petty.

      • ProBasketballPundit - May 27, 2014 at 8:34 PM

        I just want to have beefs with people on this blog like Lance Stephenson has with LeBron.

      • sportsfan18 - May 28, 2014 at 1:21 AM


        fine, if you want to have a beef…

        but WHY choose to be Lance and be on the losing side?

    • eugenesaxe1 - May 27, 2014 at 9:04 PM

      Because we can certainly trust anything a Sterling says now 😐

    • jackntorres - May 28, 2014 at 9:05 AM

      So you and Sterling are on the same page. That proves, well, about as much as I assumed. Seriously man? This just shows y’all are equally delusional farts.

    • jackntorres - May 28, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      Idea: Put your estimate at $1.8B and mine at $1B. Whoever is further from actual price should stop commenting on this site. I know for whom most are rooting.

    • bougin89 - May 28, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      Donald’s lawyers have already stated that $2.5 billion wasn’t accurate. No way anybody offered $2.5 billion(or anything close to that) for the Clippers. I could see $1 billion though.

  5. papichulo55 - May 27, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    I think the Sterlings will use these numbers to refute the charges that they have harmed the NBA brand. One could argue that they have set a new, higher price for prime teams, and identified more than a dozen qualified buyers.
    How is that bad or business? I still want them out, but they do have a chance of dragging this out, sad to say.

  6. papichulo55 - May 27, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    *bad for business

  7. eugenesaxe1 - May 27, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    If the bidding process is open, and none of that sealed-letter bullmess, I could see Ellison or Ballmer going that high if they really want the team. I’m sure they each have a few billion in their couch cushions.

    • sportsfan18 - May 28, 2014 at 1:23 AM

      even folks with multiple billions don’t have a billion in cash handy…

      no where near that much liquid…

  8. johnheisman - May 27, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    I have no idea if the offers quoted are accurate but the price seems unrealistically high to me As far as being a business decision which it isn’t, I doubt that there is enough cash flow to justify a price that high. Also, why was Sterling so cheap and unwilling to try to field a winner for so many years.

    With a multi-billion dollar price tag, the NBA could expand by two more teams for the expansion fees that would be split among the existing teams. This is NOT a good idea but something Roger Goodell and the NFL would do. I also wonder what an NFL team in LA would be worth.

  9. mcjon22 - May 27, 2014 at 9:31 PM

    NFL teams aren’t going for 2.5 billion. There’s no way in hell the Clippers will go for that. Maybe, MAYBE the Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, or Knicks. Def not the Clippers

  10. haaaaasoooooo - May 27, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    If there is any legitimacy to this, then the Bucks were a STEAL!

  11. aurelh23 - May 28, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    They will be overpaying for the franchise by about 2 billion.

    After Paul calls it quits within 5-7 years, and Griffin has to play by himself? This franchise will get back to their tanking ways and the Lakers will run the Staples center again.

    Irony though is that Commissioner Stern MADE them who they are (with the CP3 trade going to the Clippers and not the Lakers), and Commissioner Silver will destroy them soon enough.

  12. neelymessier - May 28, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    The biggest profit owners make is when they buy low and years later sell. There is no way the team can be made profitable enough in the next several years to warrant that price. And it’s value won’t grow by a significant amount for a very long time.

    This is Sterling trying to force the NBA to negotiate an artificially high price on his behalf, and leaving him room to sue if they get less.

    Let’s see that fictional offer in writing.

    • jackntorres - May 28, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      Agreed. This is coming from the same guy who said he would tell women he could fly to get laid. Consider the source.

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