NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said before his preferred option would be for Donald and Shelly Sterling to just sell the team, not forcing the league to remove them as owners.
To that end the NBA quietly worked with Shelly Sterling in her efforts to put together a sale of the team. She pulled it off — Shelly, acting as the lone trustee of the Sterling Family Trust that owns the Los Angeles Clippers, has agreed to sell the NBA franchise to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. She claims can act as the lone trustee after having her husband Donald Sterling, who has been the recognized primary owner of the team by the NBA for more than three decades, declared mentally incapacitated.
The NBA released this statement on the potential sale.
“Commissioner Silver has consistently said the preferred outcome to the Clippers proceeding would be a voluntary sale of the team. Shelly Sterling advised the NBA last night that an agreement had been reached with Steve Ballmer, and the NBA Advisory/Finance Committee met via conference call this morning to discuss these developments. We await the submission of necessary documentation from Mrs. Sterling. In the meantime, the June 3 special meeting of the NBA Board of Governors remains as scheduled.”
At that June 3 meeting the other 29 NBA owners would conduct a hearing then vote on whether to strip Sterling of his ownership of the franchise in response to the backlash that followed his prejudiced comments on a recording released to TMZ, plus later in a CNN interview. The NBA has filed official charges against Donald Sterling, as required by its constitution, and he has responded.
The NBA reportedly would postpone that hearing and vote if there was a signed deal in place with an owner the NBA was comfortable with (Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO and part of the group that tried to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle last year, certainly fits that bill).
For now the NBA isn’t putting on the breaks, but it sounds as if they will if the deal is solid — and the NBA was following and working closely through this process, Silver and Ballmer spoke according to sources, so it is likely they will be good with the sale agreement.
Of course, the big question out there is how will Donald Sterling fight this.
He is likely will challenge the idea that he is mentally incapacitated — the details of how that is determined and by whom is part of the family trust, which Shelly’s attorneys carefully tried to follow. He likely also will head to the courts to try to block the sale.
He’s also likely to lose on those legal challenges, the only question is how long he drags it out.