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Adam Silver: Donald Sterling and Shelly Sterling might still own Clippers when season begins

Jul 15, 2014, 11:33 PM EDT

Donald Sterling, Rochelle Sterling Donald Sterling, Rochelle Sterling

Closing arguments in the court case between Shelly Sterling and Donald Sterling are set for July 28, and the verdict will likely come at a later date. An appeal could follow.

The case is dragging as the NBA season is approaching, and Adam Silver sees the writing on the wall.

Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com:

The Sterlings owning the Clippers when the season begins would be a black eye for the NBA. Not a huge one, but a blemish nonetheless.

The the league could have had the Sterlings gone by now, but it chose to cancel the scheduled vote to remove Donald – and Shelly with him – as owner. The other owners didn’t want to vote out one of their own if it could be avoided, and they loved the $2 billion offer Steve Ballmer presented. They wanted to let Shelly sell the team on her own and watch the value of everyone’s franchises rise all while they avoided the precedent-setting dirty work.

That still might happen – and Donald is out regardless. If need be, the NBA will reschedule its vote to remove his ownership. The timeline just might extend into the season.

National Basketball Players Association vice president Roger Mason Jr. said LeBron James would boycott if Sterling still owned the Clippers when the 2014-15 season began, but Mason later backtracked from that assertion. Though the specifics got twisted, I don’t think the underlying fact was wrong: The players want Sterling out before the season. If that doesn’t happen, it will be interesting how they react.

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