Donald Sterling, Rochelle Sterling

Report: Shelly Sterling has received ‘handful’ of $1 billion-plus bids for Clippers


Donald Sterling, through his attorney, says he’s not ready to sell the Clippers. Depending on the precise language of a letter he signed, he may or may not have already given his wife full authority to sell the team.

Either way, the NBA is planning to vote out the Sterlings Tuesday. That doesn’t leave much time for the league to vet any buyers before approving a Sterling-approved sale.

Facing roadblocks from all directions, Shelly Sterling is forging ahead in her attempts to sell the team anyway.

Ramona Shelburne and Darren Rovell write:

Shelly Sterling and her advisers received a handful of bids for the team Wednesday — with sources saying the bids are well more than $1 billion — in what is turning into a rush to find a buyer for the franchise before Tuesday’s Board of Governors meeting at which both of the Sterlings’ ownership interests could be terminated.

Despite the pace of the sale and seriousness of the buyers — sources said bidders were asked to post a $300 million deposit — Donald Sterling’s continuing opposition is beginning to worry several groups. The concern, one source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN, is that he is using this sale process to establish a value for the team so he later can sue the league for damages if forced to sell.

In the books given to prospective buyers, sources said, Shelly Sterling has offered to sell 100 percent of the team, which has been an important condition for the NBA.

The franchise and the team’s recently built practice facility in Playa Vista, California, are part of the sale, sources said. However, the winning bidder theoretically could prefer to lease the facility from the Sterlings, a source said.

Shelly Sterling has retained Bank of America to handle the sale. Initial bids were due Wednesday. However, a source told ESPN that several groups were given an extension until Thursday. While there was initially a sense that there would be several rounds of bidding, it now appears the strongest bidders will simply negotiate directly with Shelly Sterling and her advisers over the next few days.

If the Sterlings are using this process to establish value for the team to seek damages, they’re probably going about it the wrong way. By demanding a $300 million deposit – which would sit in escrow until all lawsuits are resolved, according to Bill Simmons of ESPN – and threatening a Donald-filed lawsuit involving anyone and everyone, the Sterlings are reducing the value of the bids.

If they just want to control the sale of the team on their own terms, OK. But if they want to maximize their return, they’re failing. The team will likely sell for more once the NBA takes control of the process, excising at least some of the Sterling complications to the process.

Regardless, I can’t see Shelly reaching an agreement with a buyer in time for the NBA to vet the new owners and approve the sale.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.