Shelly Sterling says she wants to maintain ownership of Clippers. That’s a wildcard for NBA.

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Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling’s wife of 50 years, owns half of the Clippers (thanks to California law). It’s always been a potential complication in the league’s stated goal of forcing a sale.

Especially since she wants to maintain control of the team.

She told the Los Angeles Times she wants to maintain control of the Clippers.

Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling said Wednesday that she believes she is legally entitled to maintain ownership of the NBA team and will attempt to do so, even as the pro basketball league pushes to remove her husband from the team he has owned for 33 years.

Sterling described her long tenure as a “die-hard” fan of the Clippers and said she believes that the sanctions against Donald Sterling — which included a lifetime ban and $2.5-million fine — do not apply to “me or my family.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said that this is not acceptable, that the family cannot maintain control of the team.

He’s right. She’s just serving as his proxy here.

Shelly is far from clean (although proving it in a legally acceptable way will be more difficult, she has less of a paper trail). The night after the recording of Donald making racist statements went public she had dinner with her husband and yelled “he’s not a racist” at the cameras. She was a partner with Donald in his real estate firm and in the lawsuits brought against him a former employee said Shelly used to pose as a government inspector to take a census of the races in their buildings, and to harass some tenants. She allegedly has used plenty of racist language herself. She is far from clean.

For the league, from a business perspective, the sponsors will not care which Sterling owns the team they will pull out. Same from the players — Doc Rivers found out and he’s not likely to stick around to work for her. Most fans will have the same reaction. The league is moving to wrest control of the team from Sterling’s people, with long-time employee and team president Andy Roeser taking a leave of absence and the owners looking to install a new CEO to oversee the operation.

Reportedly Donald signed ethical contracts with the league, which gives the league solid footing on him in the effort to force a sale. Forcing those on her could prove more problematic. The above instances were in settled cases.

This is how the Sterlings fight. They are not going to easily give up control. They are going to work in concert. Their egos are too wrapped up in owning the team. Plus, if Sterling (who is battling cancer) passes away during before the team is sold the rest of his family could save hundreds of millions on capital gains taxes. They are not going to go quietly.

The league needs to have a real stomach for this fight, because the Sterlings count on bullying you in the courts. The other owners are united, but this is not going to be simple and clean.

Gordon Hayward’s agent says return this season unlikely

Associated Press
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Wednesday night in Boston Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia suffered just five minutes into the season-opening game, a gruesome injury that put a pall over the rest of the night.

There had been hope from some Celtics fans that Hayward could return this season, likely for the playoffs, but now that the surgery is complete Hayward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN not to expect him back until next season.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who saw the injury. Hayward is in the first year of a four-year deal with the Celtics, they were always going to choose a cautious path rather than rush him back. Under Danny Ainge Boston has always taken the long view, even with all their moves this summer — specifically bringing in Hayward and Kyrie Irving — the target was to be the team set up for next as LeBron James and the Cavaliers faded. That plan does not change now.

Earlier in the day, Hayward had sent a video message out to Celtics fans thanking them for their support in the past 24 hours.

Without Hayward, the Celtics now will focus more on smaller lineups, rookie Jayson Tatum will get more run, as will Marcus Smart in his contract year. Jaylen Brown will be thrust into a more significant role. Also, Kyrie Irving will be asked to do more as the team’s second-best playmaker is now out for the season.

The Celtics will take a step back this season without Hayward, who was going to be crucial for them on both ends of the floor. That’s evidenced by their 0-2 start, falling to the Cavaliers and Bucks on the first couple nights of the season. Boston should still be a team well above .500 and in the playoffs, but they will not be quite the same this season.

Trail Blazers beat Suns by 48, biggest season-opening rout in NBA history

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Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.

More than fine.

Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.

Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):

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The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.

Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova scrap (video)

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Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.

Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.