If the Clippers are finally up for sale, who might buy them? Oprah, Yao Ming, Grant Hill just a few names to watch.

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Maybe Shelly Sterling is true to her word and just wants to facilitate a quick sale of the Clippers to the highest bidder and get out of the way. History implores us not to trust the word of a Sterling, but stranger things have happened.

Or maybe the league goes ahead with taking control of the team and selling it out from under the Sterlings.

One way or another the Clippers are going on the block soon and are expected to fetch better than $1 billion as a sales price. If you really want to be nauseous, remember Donald Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5 million ($3 million down) and is about to become flush with cash one way or another.

So who might buy the Clippers?

• Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim group. Also known as the poetic justice bid. This is a group the league would love to see own the team — they already own the Dodgers (having won a sealed bid process much like the league might use), they have one of the most iconic personalities in Los Angeles as the front man, they have the money via the other guys in the group, and it would be a nice little kick in the behind for Donald Sterling as he is pushed out the door. If the Sterlings sell the team themselves before the league takes it from them, the odds of this group winning go down fast.

• Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen and Larry Ellison. That trio is pretty much the definition of deep pockets. Any one of them could buy a team (Lord knows Ellison has tried) and together they have money and star power. This has to be the early favorite in the process. You can insert your own “you get a contract and you get a contract” joke right here.

• Grant Hill and his investment group. Grant Hill was always the guy in the locker room who was reading the Wall Street Journal instead of tweeting, the guy who would put Bloomberg TV on instead of ESPN on a locker room television. He’s got a mind for business. And he has assembled a group that may buy the Clippers, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

•Rick Caruso. A developer whose name is not known all that well outside Los Angeles, but in L.A. he’s the guy that owns the Grove. He was in the running to buy the Dodgers but lost out to the Magic/Guggenheim group.

• Patrick Soon-Shiong. Another name not known outside the City of Angels, but the medical researcher and business man is the richest man in Los Angeles, worth $9.8 billion. He already owners four percent of Lakers, so he has been through the league’s ownership vetting process.

• Yao Ming. According to Bill Simmons of Grantland (and confirmed by ESPN’s Marc Stein), Yao is getting together a group of Chinese investors to make a bid. Seems a long shot but you never know.

There are a lot of smaller names that could try to attach as a minority owner with a group, such as Floyd Mayweather Jr. (he would never pass the league’s screening process for owners), Rick Ross, Frankie Muniz and others. They will get pub if attached to a deal, but like Grant Hill and Magic Johnson they are not the real money.

These are just the names we know. There are always hedge fund billionaires just circling the NBA looking for an investment (see the Milwaukee Bucks sale for $550 million) so other names who can write big checks will certainly pop up.

For the Sterlings, that is enough to create one massive bidding war. They are going to pocket a lot of money on this sale, whoever handles it. Which is a little disturbing, really.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.