Donald Sterling reportedly says Los Angeles Clippers not for sale, so what’s next?

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver acted decisively – banning Donald Sterling for life, fining him $2.5 million and setting in motion a process that would force Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers if 3/4 of NBA owners vote in favor.

Silver would not have taken that last measure without absolute certainty he has the votes, and he’s not hiding confidence I what will happen next.

“I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him,” Silver said.

And how will Sterling take it?

“I have no idea,” Silver said.

Sterling is the huge wildcard here.

He could go silently into the night, accepting his billion dollars and fading from the spotlight. Or he could file a lawsuit and fight Silver’s punishment.

Sterling, in an off-camera interview with Fox News’ Jim Gray, indicated the latter is more likely. According to Gray, Sterling said the Clippers are not and would not be for sale.

I don’t see how this ends cleanly if Sterling pursues legal action.

The NBA constitution is not publicly available, but we’ve learned a little about it through published reports. How to interpret the document remains difficult, potentially even for those with access to it.

Before Silver announced his ruling, Tulane Sports Law Program Director Gabe Feldman explained the league’s constitution thusly:

If Sterling sues the NBA, the court could agree with Feldman and say some of the penalties – the extra $1.5 million in fines and having to sell the team – exceed Silver’s bounds. The NBA constitution is not a legal document, but parties can sue on the basis the league did not follow its own rules.

And then, if it gets that far, there’s the matter of the team being sold. Who runs the sale if Sterling is banished? Again, it’s not clear whether the NBA constitution spells this out, but Zach Lowe of Grantland reports how the league would plan to proceed:

Sterling would obviously have complete interest in selling the team for as much money as possible. The NBA would have a theoretical fiduciary duty to do the same, but considering Sterling would get the money, it might not be as urgent to the league as would be to him. Once more, that could be grounds for Sterling to sue, depending on the full text of the NBA constitution.

However, Lester Munson of ESPN also reported:

When Silver issues his punishment to Sterling, the decision is final. The constitution provides in Paragraph 24(m) that a commissioner’s decision shall be “final, binding, and conclusive” and shall be as final as an award of arbitration. It is almost impossible to find a judge in the United States judicial system who would set aside an award of arbitration.When Silver issues his punishment to Sterling, the decision is final. The constitution provides in Paragraph 24(m) that a commissioner’s decision shall be “final, binding, and conclusive” and shall be as final as an award of arbitration. It is almost impossible to find a judge in the United States judicial system who would set aside an award of arbitration.

That doesn’t mean Sterling can’t sue. It would just make it more difficult, though not impossible, for him to win.

If Sterling sues, he could seek a stay to remain in power and/or damages. There’s no limit on the complexity or direction a potential lawsuit would take.

It would be up to the courts to determine the merits of Sterling’s claims.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.