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Report: Language in purchase agreement states Steve Ballmer will not move Clippers from Los Angeles

May 30, 2014, 9:34 PM EDT

Steve Ballmer Steve Ballmer

There have been plenty of moving parts to the saga involving Donald Sterling and the potential sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, but Friday’s developments — which include the NBA announcing a settlement with the Sterling family trust that would see the team sold to Steve Ballmer and the June 3 hearing to terminate ownership canceled — would lead us to believe that things are winding down toward a somewhat inevitable conclusion.

Ballmer was part of the group that attempted to purchase the Sacramento Kings, with the intent of moving that franchise to Seattle. The former Microsoft CEO obviously has roots there, but his pending purchase of L.A.’s junior franchise would reportedly include language in the deal that would preclude him from moving the Clippers from the second largest media market in the U.S.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:

There is language in the purchase agreement w/ Ballmer that states he will not move the Clippers from Los Angeles, source says.

This is in line with Ballmer’s remarks to the Wall Street Journal back on May 15, when he said that moving the Clippers wouldn’t make any sense considering the negative effect it would have on the valuation of the franchise.

“If I get interested in the Clippers, it would be for Los Angeles,” Ballmer said. “I don’t work anymore, so I have more geographic flexibility than I did a year, year-and-a half ago. Moving them anywhere else would be value destructive.”

Things can change over time, and it’s doubtful that any language like that would remain iron-clad, especially if the league decides at some point in the future that Los Angeles doesn’t need two franchises. But the few true fans the Clippers actually have can take a bit of comfort in the fact that while the potential for relocation exists, preventing it with contractual language was, at the very least, a consideration.

  1. ranfan12 - May 30, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    Clippers here to stay

    • ss3walkman - May 31, 2014 at 1:47 AM

      So he can own a team but can’t even move them if he wanted to? Doesn’t really sound like owning to me

      • tomshoe - May 31, 2014 at 7:18 AM

        With everyone blocking the movement of teams, why isn’t expansion an option? Jesus.

      • Wammy Giveaway - May 31, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        The no-relocation clause is temporary, but was needed because there were special circumstances surrounding the team, but also for this: if you recall, Clay Bennett bought the Supersonics, promised to keep them in Seattle… and he lied. He moved the Sonics to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder from right under the NBA’s nose. David Stern did not include a no-relocation clause when the Board Of Governors approved Bennett as an owner. This clause prevents history from repeating itself, so in essence, the Clippers are the first team in NBA history to have this provision.

        My guess is, the length of the no-relocation clause will last for the duration of this current CBA, which is three years from now (or 2017). But there’s another report that the length could last as long as the lease the Clippers have with the Staples Center.

    • rohlo - May 31, 2014 at 8:34 PM

      he would never want to take a 1.5 billion dollar loss in value by movign the clippers to seattle. if a team were in seattle right now they would more than likely be valued at 500-600 million.

  2. chrisswitzer2189 - May 30, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Much rather see the supersonics again

  3. muathjam21 - May 30, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    So having the entire Seattle metropolitan area (along with the surrounding Northwest areas) as your market share devalues your franchise more than playing second fiddle to #1 LA franchise – the Lakers?

    This is why the NBA will never see real parity.

    • smoothaswilkes - May 30, 2014 at 11:44 PM

      Yes. That’s why Sacramento and Milwaukee franchises sold for over 500m and the LA franchise just sold for 2 BILLION. It’s because of the local TV rights. Seattle is 14th to LA’s 2nd, which means a lot more money for the TV deal – like the Lakers 3 billion with TWC. The Clippers will see a deal similar, especially with new ownership and a loaded team.

      By the way, none of this has to do with parity in the NBA. If it did the Lakers and Knicks would be in the finals every year. Hmm, let’s see what teams are left in the playoffs:

      Miami – 16th largest market and they are shooting for a three-peat
      Indianapolis – 25th largest market and they had the third best record in the league and best in the East. the next two teams had even better records this season.
      San Antonio – 37th in the market and they have four championships over the last decade or so and were seconds away from their fifth last season.
      OKC – 45th in the market and they have 3 of the top 20 players in the league and make deep runs in the playoffs every year.

      Hopefully you learned something today about the CBA and NBA in general. The more you know…

      • jwbiii - May 31, 2014 at 12:10 AM

        That’s also why buying the Kings (20th sized market) and moving them to Seattle (13th) made sense and moving the Clippers anywhere doesn’t.

      • muathjam21 - May 31, 2014 at 2:52 AM

        Apparently my point completely went over your head, bud. I was talking about an entire market in the Northwest is being unaccommodated because it’s better staying LA and playing second fiddle to another team.

        This is where the NFL outshines the NBA – their revenue sharing plan is leaps and bounds better – and actually levels the playing field to where any time, regardless of market – can compete. That is not true of the NBA.

        The more you know.

      • smoothaswilkes - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:14 PM

        Then you should have actually said that. Doesn’t matter though, the entire market in the Northwest is still not worth as much as all of Southern California. And if you were talking about the entire Northwest, you failed to bring up Portland. Odd that.

        You bring up the NFL and their parity but fail to mention any of the four small market teams that were playing in the NBA conference finals. Talk about parity, I didn’t see any big market teams in there. And btw, you have zero clue when it comes to revenue sharing in the NBA, even Charlotte is is profitable because of the revenue sharing plan and luxury taxes.

        So one thing is clear about this. I do know more. More than you, apparently.

  4. jerdogthompson - May 31, 2014 at 12:28 AM

    What did I SAY trolls?

    #InDocwetrust

  5. asimonetti88 - May 31, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    When you consider the hold the Lakers have on the LA market, the Clippers share of LA isn’t that much bigger than the Seattle market, if at all.

    • syrinx35 - May 31, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      I doubt that’s true any more — the Lakers’ glory days are behind them, and the Clippers are on the way up.

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 3, 2014 at 4:40 AM

        There’s no doubt the Clippers are a better team on the court, just like there’s no doubt the Lakers are far more popular in LA and the Southland in general.

    • syrinx35 - May 31, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      I don’t think that’s true any more — the Lakers’ glory days are behind them, and the Clippers are on the way up.

  6. SBoy - May 31, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    “But the few true fans the Clippers actually have…” Anyone else catch this dig at the Clippers? We know they’re not the Lakers but that is a little harsh…

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 3, 2014 at 4:41 AM

      It’s true.

  7. syrinx35 - May 31, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Why did the NBA let Clay Bennett effortlessly move a team after he repeatedly lied to state and local government officials, but now they are opposed to this team moving (especially when there are two teams in the same city) ???

  8. syrinx35 - May 31, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Seattle got screwed by the NBA, and they made the lying thief Clay Bennett the head of the relocation committee as some kind of sick joke.

    #StillScrewed

  9. papichulo55 - May 31, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    Economic Bubble will not be good for the League. They always burst, and some people have enough money to play both sides of the Curve.

  10. moppop - May 31, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    But he can rename them to the Developers.

  11. jerdogthompson - May 31, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    Nice try Wammy you troll

    Just get it through your feeble mind, the Clippers WILL NOT RELOCATE you not wit. There’s no such language of a specified time frame in the contract nor conditions that would allow the league to approve such a move. Build a bridge and get over it you buffoon.

    #InDocwetrust

  12. Robert - Jun 1, 2014 at 2:37 AM

    Translation: Seattle is getting the Sonics back.

    Get rid of the Clippers and Ducks as well, they are weakening Southern California…..

  13. coolkidchris - Jun 1, 2014 at 3:03 AM

    Would he be allowed to move the Clippers to Anaheim?

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