Reports: Oprah Winfrey, Floyd Mayweather Jr., even Matt Damon would like to buy Clippers

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In this arena, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a pretender… not that I’d say that to his face.

It didn’t take long after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver dropped the hammer on Clippers owner Donald Sterling over his racist comments and said the league was going to try to force him to sell the team that potential suitors lined up with an interest in purchasing the team. (No, Shelly Sterling, Donald’s estranged wife, is not in that group.)

Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Group (which already own the Los Angeles Dodgers) are already trying to get in the front of the line, according to multiple reports. But they have a lot of company.

Boxing’s powerhouse Mayweather is one of those. A regular at Lakers and Clippers games, he wants in, reports ESPN.

Mayweather said he was serious about his interest and that he had spoken with his adviser, Al Haymon, about teaming with Mayweather Promotions chief executive Leonard Ellerbe, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer and possibly others to make a bid for the Clippers.

“I called Al today about that to see if me, Leonard and Al, and hopefully Richard and a couple of other guys, a couple other of my billionaire guys, we can come together and see what we can come up with,” Mayweather said. “Hopefully, we can do it, and it’s not just talk.

Let’s set aside Mayweather’s gambling history and his ability to clear the league’s background check for owners, Mayweather would need a lot of help — his net worth is estimated in the $150 million range and the price tag for the Clippers is likely going to be in the $1 billion range (according to sources and other reports). Same with Oscar De La Hoya, who also is interested but worth roughly $200 million. In this ring, Mayweather and De La Hoya are not big time.

Oprah Winfrey is (estimated net worth around $3 billion). Entertainment mogul David Geffen is ($6.2 billion). And those two may be teaming up, reports Darren Rovel of ESPN.

Larry Ellison has been looking to buy a team and move them to San Jose, but it’s hard to see that outcome here — these partners wouldn’t want to move the team. Plus, if you move a team out of the nation’s second largest media market you are doing it wrong.

One fun name on the list — Matt Damon would love to be a minority owner.

Also on the minority owner wish list is Malcolm in the Middle’s Frankie Muniz.

There also will be a lot of names you don’t know who will have a serious shot at this. For example Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is one of the richest men in Los Angeles with a net worth of $7 billion, and he is the guy who bought Magic Johnson’s minority share of the Lakers. Soon-Shiong both has the money to get in this game and has already gone through the NBA’s vetting process for owners, there are no surprises there for the league.

It’s going to be a little while before a sale takes place. The NBA owners have to formally charge Sterling, have a hearing where both sides can present evidence, then the owners would vote. The NBA owners meet every July and this could happen then, except you can expect Sterling will fight this with lawsuits (plural) in federal court, dragging the process out. He’s a litigious person and is not just going to roll over for the “good of the game” here. That’s not in his nature.

When the sale process does move forward (and assuming the NBA runs it) expect a blind bid process (similar to how the Dodgers were sold out from under Frank McCourt by Major League Baseball). That process tends to bring in incredibly high bids as groups don’t know what others will bid. By the way, Magic Johnson and his group won the Dodgers in that process.

And yes, after league expenses, Donald Sterling will get that money. He bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million and will turn a handsome profit on this deal.

76ers second-rounder Jonah Bolden signs in Israel

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Jonah Bolden – No. 16 on my draft board – slipped all the way to the 76ers at No. 36 in the NBA draft. An impressive summer league has raised his stock significantly.

But Philadelphia won’t reap the rewards this season.

Bolden signed a three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team announced. The club also said the deal contained NBA outs and the 76ers helped facilitate his move from his previous team, Red Star in Serbia.

This is a helpful arrangement for Philadelphia, which is running out of roster spots. Bolden will develop elsewhere while allowing the 76ers’ to maintain his exclusive negotiating rights.

Bolden must get stronger and more adept at handling physicality. The athletic stretch four can also continue developing his burgeoning perimeter skills.

Then, next year, maybe the 76ers will have room to sign him themselves.

Anthony Davis does #DriveByDunkChallenge (video)

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If you’re not up with what the kids are doing, the cool thing this summer is the #DriveByDunkChallenge – driving to random houses, running out of a still-running car, dunking on their basketball hoop, running back into the car then driving off.

It sounds like a lot of fun for those who can dunk (and don’t get accosted by startled homeowners). An example:

Pelicans star Anthony Davis took his turn:

Report: Thunder signing Dakari Johnson two years after drafting him

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Two seasons ago, Dakari Johnson was the youngest player by more than two years on the D-League’s All-Rookie team. Last season, Johnson was the youngest player by more than a year on an All-D-League team – and he made the first of three teams.

Now, Johnson – who the Thunder drafted No. 48 in 2015 and whose rights they continued to hold – is finally moving up to the NBA.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Thunder have already used the full taxpayer mid-level exception, so presumably Johnson will get the minimum – $2,128,226 over two years. That, plus two years of meager D-League salary, will be Johnson’s return for granting Oklahoma City four years of his services.

He could have forced the Thunder’s hand either of the previous two years by signing the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum – a team must extend to retain a draft pick’s rights. Accepting the tender would have meant Johnson earning an NBA salary (and gaining a year of service) if Oklahoma City kept him past the preseason. Or, if they waived him, he would’ve been an unrestricted NBA free agent. He still could have developed with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate while available to any NBA team.

Instead, Johnson repeatedly rejected the tender, allowing Oklahoma City to maintain exclusive negotiating rights.

At least the Thunder helped develop him. A strong 7-footer, Johnson has improved his mobility and skill level. He’s still an old-school center in a league moving away from that style, but he’s now more equipped to keep up.

Whether he’s ready enough is another question. Johnson will fall behind Steven Adams and Enes Kanter on the depth chart. At just 21, Johnson is still a decent developmental prospect.

Johnson gives the Thunder 16 players on standard contracts, one more than the regular-season maximum. They could waive Semaj Christon, whose salary is unguaranteed, but I’d be leery of having only Raymond Felton behind Russell Westbrook at point guard. Nick Collison at least provides insurance at center.

So, there’s no guarantee Johnson sticks into the regular season. One thing working in his favor: His salary will be luxury-taxed at the rookie minimum, because the Thunder drafted him. Christon or any other player acquired through free agency would be taxed at the second-year minimum.

No matter how it shakes out, Johnson is at least finally getting significant money in his pocket.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey: DeMar DeRozan to play some point guard

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The Raptors gave away backup point guard Cory Joseph to save money. So, who will play behind Kyle Lowry?

Presumably, Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet will each slide up a spot on the depth chart. The third-year Wright looks ready to join the rotation, and he deserves at least the opportunity.

But Toronto also has another – unexpected – option at point guard: DeMar DeRozan.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey, via Bryan Meler of Sportsnet:

“DeMar DeRozan, have him handle the ball a bit more as a point guard, a facilitator, a passer. Kyle Lowry moving the ball a bit more, spacing up. We don’t want to give our whole ‘what we’re going to try to do next year’ away, but again it comes down to passing the basketball and better spacing more so, than we know, one-on-one play.”

“Everyone and their brother knows we want better ball movement,” said Casey.

DeRozan didn’t play point guard at all last season.* So, this is a pretty big shift.

*Defined as playing without Lowry, Joseph, Wright or VanVleet.

Known as an isolation player, DeRozan has quietly improved as a distributor. I don’t think his ability to run an offense is at a point-guard level, but I’m also not sure that’s the point.

The Raptors are trying to change their style and promote more ball movement. This could help in the long run.

I supported the Timberwolves playing Zach LaVine at point guard as a rookie even though it was clear he should be a shooting guard. Playing point guard was a crash course that helped him develop skills useful at shooting guard, skills he couldn’t have as easily developed while playing off the ball.

The same could be true with DeRozan. Some rocky minutes at point guard could better equip him to play with Lowry in better-passing units come playoff time.

It was more conventional to play a 19-year-old on a bad team out of position to focus on skill development than it is for a 28-year-old on a good team. But he we are.

The Raptors have achieved enough success in the regular season and not enough in the playoffs. Experimenting during the long regular season is a good plan.