May 29, 2014, 8:48 AM EDT
Donald Sterling, through his attorney, says he’s not ready to sell the Clippers. Depending on the precise language of a letter he signed, he may or may not have already given his wife full authority to sell the team.
Either way, the NBA is planning to vote out the Sterlings Tuesday. That doesn’t leave much time for the league to vet any buyers before approving a Sterling-approved sale.
Facing roadblocks from all directions, Shelly Sterling is forging ahead in her attempts to sell the team anyway.
Shelly Sterling and her advisers received a handful of bids for the team Wednesday — with sources saying the bids are well more than $1 billion — in what is turning into a rush to find a buyer for the franchise before Tuesday’s Board of Governors meeting at which both of the Sterlings’ ownership interests could be terminated.
Despite the pace of the sale and seriousness of the buyers — sources said bidders were asked to post a $300 million deposit — Donald Sterling’s continuing opposition is beginning to worry several groups. The concern, one source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN, is that he is using this sale process to establish a value for the team so he later can sue the league for damages if forced to sell.
In the books given to prospective buyers, sources said, Shelly Sterling has offered to sell 100 percent of the team, which has been an important condition for the NBA.
The franchise and the team’s recently built practice facility in Playa Vista, California, are part of the sale, sources said. However, the winning bidder theoretically could prefer to lease the facility from the Sterlings, a source said.
Shelly Sterling has retained Bank of America to handle the sale. Initial bids were due Wednesday. However, a source told ESPN that several groups were given an extension until Thursday. While there was initially a sense that there would be several rounds of bidding, it now appears the strongest bidders will simply negotiate directly with Shelly Sterling and her advisers over the next few days.
If the Sterlings are using this process to establish value for the team to seek damages, they’re probably going about it the wrong way. By demanding a $300 million deposit – which would sit in escrow until all lawsuits are resolved, according to Bill Simmons of ESPN – and threatening a Donald-filed lawsuit involving anyone and everyone, the Sterlings are reducing the value of the bids.
If they just want to control the sale of the team on their own terms, OK. But if they want to maximize their return, they’re failing. The team will likely sell for more once the NBA takes control of the process, excising at least some of the Sterling complications to the process.
Regardless, I can’t see Shelly reaching an agreement with a buyer in time for the NBA to vet the new owners and approve the sale.
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