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Report: If Sterlings can complete sale agreement by Tuesday league hearing would be postponed

May 29, 2014, 4:56 PM EDT

Donald Sterling Donald Sterling

It’s always been a cleaner, easier process for the NBA if the Sterlings just sold the team.

That may or may not be happening — Shelly Sterling and her attorneys are going through the process, his attorney says he has changed his mind about selling and has revoked her right to sell — but the league is open to the idea still.

If the Sterlings can really come to an agreement to sell the Clippers by Monday night — one that completely ends Donald and Shelly Sterling’s affiliation with the NBA — the hearing to revoke their franchise ownership June 3 (next Tuesday) could be postponed, reports Michael McCann at Sports Illustrated.

According to sources, if Sterling presents the NBA with a completed agreement to sell the Clippers before Tuesday’s meeting, and if the NBA has a “favorable impression” of both the dollar amount and the incoming owners, the league would postpone the hearing until it can formally vet the purchase, sale agreement and pending owners. If the NBA later approves the transaction, the Clippers would be sold and Sterling, along with his wife and co-owner, Shelly Sterling, would no longer have any affiliation with the NBA.

Sources tell SI.com that the NBA’s top priority is for ownership to be transferred, and the league would welcome the exchange occurring voluntarily. A voluntary transfer would avert a potentially contentious hearing next Tuesday and, more importantly, avert the potential of Sterling filing a costly and lengthy lawsuit against the NBA and its owners.

This follows what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at the NBA Draft Lottery:

“It is their team to sell, and so he knows what the league’s point of view is, and so I’m sure if he wanted to sell the team on some reasonable timetable, I’d prefer he sell it than we go through this process.”

There are reportedly six bids at least in. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly has bid $1.8 billion (he is worth $20 billion according to Forbes) and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN says he may be the frontrunner.

A powerhouse group with David Geffen, Oprah Winfrey and Larry Ellison have teamed with two of the Guggenheim group’s big players (those are Magic Johnson’s investors). Grant Hill’s group is said to have bid $1.2 billion. Don’t count out the reported “richest man in Los Angeles,” medical researcher and business man Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who already owns four percent of the Lakers and has been vetted by the league.

A number of the bidders have reportedly already been vetted by the league in other deals and would quickly move through the approval process with the league.

All this only works if Donald Sterling agrees to the sale — if he is going to take the league to court over this there is no reason for the league not to go through with the process of stripping him of his franchise. All of it started with Sterling’s prejudiced comments in a recording leaked to TMZ, then later in a separate CNN interview, comments that caused a backlash among fans, players and team sponsors.

Donald Sterling remains the official controlling owner in the eyes of the league (Shelly owns half through a trust) and as part of his response to the league’s charges his attorney said he planned to fight the forced sale “to the bloody end.” He has complained about the 33 percent capital gains tax he would have to pay on a sale.

The question is will he feel that way when a $1.8 billion offer (or more) is on the table?

  1. eugenesaxe1 - May 29, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    So much for a team value of 575mil. And w/o having all the numbers in front of me, that bid probably eliminates everyone except Ellison and company. Ballmer can go higher than that, but even he can’t compete with Ellison if it becomes a bidding war.

    • asimonetti88 - May 29, 2014 at 5:42 PM

      If the Clippers are worth $1.8 billion, I can’t even begin to imagine what the Lakers or Knicks would be worth.

      • eugenesaxe1 - May 29, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        The Knicks would be worth more, I believe MSG would go with them. I could be wrong about that, don’t quote me.

      • asimonetti88 - May 29, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        I didn’t think about that. MSG was just renovated for $1 billion, so the cost of the arena alone would be over $1 billion. MSG Network would also be part of the deal..

        And Lakers would include the $3 billion cable contract with Time Warner Cable.

        This all adds up to more money than I can even wrap my head around.

      • jimeejohnson - May 29, 2014 at 7:20 PM

        NYC real estate might be the only real estate more expensive than that in Los Angeles. For my money, L.A. and the Lakers are the place to be, but I’m slightly west of I-5 biased and you know what I mean if you live west of I-5 (like you do).

      • Kevin S. - May 30, 2014 at 6:15 AM

        And the Knicks currently pay no property tax on the Garden. Wind. Fall.

    • chunkala - May 29, 2014 at 6:48 PM

      What are you talking about? The franchise won’t go for more than $2.5B and Ballmer has $20B of his own money and could easily obtain debt to buy the team.

      Hope Sterling forces NBA to pay his estate taxes too.

      • eugenesaxe1 - May 29, 2014 at 7:10 PM

        This is what I’m talking about:

        Larry Ellison
        Net Worth
        $52 Billion

        That’s as of today.
        Ellison can buy Ballmer twice and still buy half a dozen Clippers.
        It’s called “research”, look into it.

      • jimeejohnson - May 29, 2014 at 7:21 PM

        Stinkin’ facts?

  2. sportsfan18 - May 29, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    Silver can’t have it BOTH ways…

    He’s already suspended Donald Sterling from the NBA. When one reads the actual words Mr. Silver used, Donald Sterling may NOT have anything to do with the team, with business decisions, player personnel decisions etc…

    Allowing Donald Sterling to appoint, choose his wife to sell the team, look for prospective buyers IS a business decision that pertains to the team.

    And boss, CEO etc… that picks who gets to head up negotiations from their company with another company at a high level IS make a business decision that affects the company.

    The commissioner quite CLEARLY said in his statement (and we may all Google and find his EXACT words) when he suspended Mr. Sterling that he could NOT be involved or make any business decision that affected the team.

    So, per what Mr. Silver said, Donald Sterling may NOT appoint his wife to head up the sale of the team.

    It is up to the league to appoint someone to do that. They have appointed a CEO but said that he would not be involved in the sale, he would only run the team.

    Fine, the league could have chosen Mrs. Sterling to look for potential buyers since she’s not been suspended by the league, but it can’t be Mr. Sterling’s decision per what Mr. Silver said when suspending him.

    Silver suspends him and then goes back on a part of what he told the nation and the world when he suspended him.

    • jimeejohnson - May 29, 2014 at 7:22 PM

      Maybe Silver thinks he’s Stern and CAN have it both ways.

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