Shelly Sterling would still have ties to Clippers after sale, details of deal show

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Shelly Sterling will not own any of the Clippers after she sells the team to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion, a sale that the NBA is working now to finalize.

But she would still have ties to the team, almost an “owner emeritus” status, reports the Associated Press.

The individuals, who are not authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press that the $2 billion deal allows for up to 10 percent of the team — or $200 million — to be spun off into a charitable foundation that Shelly Sterling would essentially run. The deal was negotiated by Shelly Sterling after husband Donald Sterling’s racist remarks to a girlfriend were publicized and the NBA moved to oust him as team owner.

One of the individuals said Shelly Sterling and Ballmer would be co-chairs of the foundation. The individuals said the foundation would target underprivileged families, battered women, minorities and inner city youths. “To benefit those on the receiving end of Donald’s rather abhorrent remarks,” one individual said.

Shelly Sterling was looking from the start to stay tied to the team, ideally through remaining a minority owner, but the league was never going to go for that.

This is a workaround. She runs the charitable organization tied to the Clippers, and in that way stays connected to the team without actually owning a piece of it.

Shelly and Donald Sterling both had their identities largely wrapped up in owning the Clippers — the media dining room before Clippers games was often full of their friends and hangers on, kissing their rings so to speak, in what some media members jokingly called “club Sterling.” It’s not that the Sterlings loved the Clippers, they loved owning the Clippers.

This way she gets to keep that.

After a firestorm that followed a leaked tape of prejudicial remarks by Donald Sterling, the league made moves to strip the Sterlings of ownership (they each owned 50 percent of the team through a family trust, although the league recognized Donald as the official, primary owner). Shelly Sterling, working with the league, had Donald declared incapacitated following medical tests, giving her full control of the trust, then she sold the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion (the Sterlings will clear an estimated $1.3 billion after taxes, he bought the team in 1981 for $12.5 million). As part of the sale, the trust agreed to indemnify the NBA in any lawsuits brought by the sale — if Donald Sterling sues the league and wins the Sterling Trust has to pay his winnings. So he essentially is suing himself.

Donald Sterling said at one point he would sign off on the sale, but now is saying he may try to block it if the league does not lift its lifetime ban or rescind the $2.5 million fine levied against him.

Rumor: Grizzlies had to choose between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale

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David Fizdale has been linked to most of the NBA’s head-coaching vacancies.

He developed a legion of backers as lead a Heat assistant, and he did good things guiding the Grizzlies before they unexpectedly fired him. He deserves consideration.

But he also must explain his fractured relationship with Memphis star Marc Gasol. They weren’t speaking for a while.

And maybe the problem was even worse than that.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to a source close to Fizdale briefed on the Grizzlies’ decision, it was ownership having to make a choice — trade their All-Star center Marc Gasol, who has fallen in love with its small-market city, or fire the coach. Their relationship had gotten that bad.

If Grizzlies ownership felt it had to choose between Gasol and Fizdale, it’s not clear why.

Fizdale benched Gasol down the stretch during the coach’s last game, and Gasol publicly expressed his frustration.

But Gasol denied issuing a me-or-Fizdale ultimatum. Fizdale said focus on his relationship with Gasol was “overblown,” adding he cared far more about whether he could win with a player than whether they got along personally.

Memphis obviously sided with Gasol – probably too strongly.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

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I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.

Report: Knicks to discuss coaching vacancy with Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer

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Mike Budenholzer is restless in Atlanta, seeing a rebuild coming and looking at other jobs (something Hawks management is fine with). He went down the road a ways with the Suns before pulling out of that process, but he’s still looking around.

The Knicks are casting a wide net in their search, talking to virtually everyone looking for coaching jobs.

So, this seemed inevitable, right? Budenholzer and the Knicks are going to talk, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This will be very preliminary. The Knicks have already had some level of conversation with Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, David Blatt, Mike Woodson, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith (Jackson and Fizdale are the rumored early leaders). Budenholzer has established a style and culture in Atlanta, giving the franchise a path forward. New York could certainly use that.

However, the Knicks job comes with real challenges, too. That starts with James Dolan as owner and the erratic, at times paranoid culture he has created there. Also, expectations in New York are always high, but the team will be without Kristaps Porzigis for at least half (maybe all) of the upcoming season as he recovers from an ACL injury, and that puts a ceiling on the team in the short term. Is all that worth leaving Atlanta for?

 

Stephen Curry to begin “modified” practices with Warriors

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Golden State has flipped the switch in the first round, going up 3-0 on overmatched San Antonio. The Warriors have been outscoring the Spurs by 20.2 points per 100 possessions in the series, allowing less than a point per possession on defense and scoring when and where they want. Kevin Durant is averaging 27.3 points per game, Klay Thompson is shooting 63.3 percent from three and scoring 25.7 points per game, and the Warriors are clicking.

But they are not yet whole — they need Stephen Curry back. Not for this round, but before the Western Conference Finals for sure.

Curry was re-evaluated Friday and will begin practicing with the team in a limited — or “modified” to use the team’s term — way.

The target has always been a return somewhere during the second round, and that still seems to be on track. That is also a little faster than traditional for a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which can take up to two months to heal (not the 4-6 weeks of the Warriors timeline), but the Warriors are being cautious here for now.

Eventually, the Warriors will need him back — their offense is built around Curry and his ball movement and movement off the ball. Curry’s gravity to draw defenders, even when he doesn’t have the ball, opens up the floor for others. Put simply, if he’s 28 feet from the bucket on the weak side defenders still have to watch and be near him, and help defenders need to be aware, which pulls the defense to wherever he is. Without Curry and the Warriors take more midrange jumpers, it’s just in the first round series against the Spurs they are hitting them.