Donald Sterling won’t agree to Clippers sale, instructs attorney proceed with lawsuit against NBA

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You thought Donald Sterling would go quietly? Why? Just because he said he would?

Ha!

What we all hoped would be an inconvenient delay has turned into the worst-case scenario.

Dan Woike of The Orange County Register:

Donald also won’t sign off on the sale of the team to Steve Ballmer, according to the Associated Press.

Whether Donald needs to agree to that sale is a different question for himself, Shelly Sterling and their lawyers to solve. The Sterling Family Trust owns the Clippers and reportedly specifies when one spouse can take control – and Shelly had Donald ruled mentally incapacitated, giving her power to set up the sale of the team.

Donald Sterling’s first move would be to regain his share of the trust, and he’s going to try to do that reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Through her Sterling also released this statement:

“From the onset I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. I am extremely sorry for the hurtful statements I made privately. While this is not an excuse for the statements, like every other American, I never imagined that my (they) would be made public. I believe that Adam Silver acted in haste by illegally ordering the forced sale of the Clippers and banning me for life from the NBA. Action taken by Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and fly in the face of freedoms that are afforded to all Americans. I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights. While my position may not be popular, I believe my rights to privacy & preservation of my rights to due process shouldn’t be trampled. I love the team and have dedicated 33 years of my life to the organization. I intend to fight to keep the Team.”

His real challenge is this — the Clippers are a franchise of the NBA and Sterling, on multiple occasions, agreed to the NBA’s rules, processes and adjudication systems. This is not the government trying to strip him of his business, this is his partners voting him out of the company. Very different things. Few legal experts think Sterling stands much of a chance here.

It is his challenging of Shelly Sterling and taking away his authority in the trust that is more interesting. That will be decided in a California probate court.

If he can do that, he would have the leverage to block the sale. If Donald Sterling fails in probate, then both the sale and the indemnity that Shelly Sterling offered the league — saying the Trust would pay any money Donald Sterling wins suing the league, meaning he is basically suing himself — remain in place.

If Sterling does regain say in the trust the NBA will re-schedule its vote to remove Donald as the Clippers’ owner. Yes, the league has a little egg on its face for allowing Sterling to continue owning the team for whatever the extra time becomes, but that’s not a huge deal. The other owners will almost surely vote out Donald.

If Donald is voted out, the ramifications would be wide. Shelly would also lose her ownership of the team, meaning she couldn’t sell the team to Ballmer (and couldn’t agree with him to preserve her place as owner emeritus). The NBA would take over the sale and then give the proceeds to the Sterlings.

A temporary injunction could delay or maybe even stop that process, but Sterling is unlikely to get an injunction granted.

Sterling is on his way out one way or another. It’ll just go through the courts rather than happen smoothly.

Bulls: No decision yet on Rajon Rondo’s future with team

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls are not ready to say whether veteran point guard Rajon Rondo will be back for a second season.

Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson says that “is still to be determined.” The Bulls can pay Rondo $13.4 million or buy him out for $3 million by Friday’s deadline.

Paxson spoke Tuesday during a news conference to introduce newcomers Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and rookie Lauri Markkanen, who were acquired from Minnesota for Jimmy Butler on draft night. The Bulls were planning to meet Tuesday with Rondo’s agent Bill Duffy, who represents LaVine.

Paxson also says a buyout on Dwyane Wade after he exercised his $23.8 million option “has not been broached.” Paxson says the Bulls, at least for now, assume Wade will play for Chicago.

Report: Chris Paul met with Clipper officials to talk future of franchise, himself

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Chris Paul is going to talk to a lot of teams this summer, but if you ask people around the league, most seem to think he will re-sign with the Clippers. The ultimate reason is money: As president of the players’ union he helped steer the new CBA negotiations, which included changing the “over 36 rule” — limiting max contracts to players who turn 36 during the time of the deal — into the “over 38 rule.” That meant 32-year-old Paul could sign one more five-year max contract.

Paul also wants to win, and it’s hard to see how the assembled team in Los Angeles — which is certainly a top 5-7 NBA team, maybe a little higher when healthy — picks up a ring. Especially with the Golden State juggernaut not going anywhere.

Paul has started talking to the Clippers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

I doubt that discussion was much about money — the Clippers will offer a five-year max contract. That’s not even up for debate.

The discussion was how to build the Clippers into a contender. Will Blake Griffin, also a free agent, be back and be part of that? What about J.J. Redick? Can the Clippers get the cap space to lure huge free agents in 2018? LeBron James reportedly wants to come to Los Angeles, although whether he wants to be a Clipper is another question. (For the record, I don’t buy the idea LeBron would “never” be a Clipper. While it may be highly unlikely, people I have spoken to around the league closer to LeBron’s thinking say he wants to keep every option open, play out next season, then see where things stand. He would not fully rule out playing with Chris Paul, who could still be in L.A.)

The Clippers have backed themselves into a corner by trading away picks for veterans, and not developing young players into guys who can contribute in the rotation. When was the last time the Clippers had their Patrick McCaw or Dewayne Dedmon? Without those young, affordable players, it becomes hard to put a good roster together and keep it together. It’s part of what Jerry West — with some help from GM Lawrence Frank — need to bring to Doc Rivers’ Clippers.

That’s likely part of the discussion, too.

There’s a lot for the sides to talk about.

Michael Jordan sent Russell Westbrook personal MVP congratulatory note

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Russell Westbrook is one of the biggest stars in the NBA, he’s now an MVP, and he wears Jordan Brand Nikes.

Still, it has to be a bit humbling to get a personal, signed note from Michael Jordan himself.

Which is exactly what he got on Tuesday, a congratulatory note from the GOAT.

The note said (in all caps):

Congrats Russell.

I got buy first MVP award before my first ring, too… keep going!

It was then signed by Jordan.

Westbrook could probably fill a second home with memorabilia from his career, but this is one he’s likely going to keep safe.

Report: At least seven teams will try to pick off free agent Andre Iguodala from Warriors

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Golden State has a lot of free agents to retain or replace this summer if they are going to keep their championship team together. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are the two biggest names, but both going to get massive paydays from the team and are not going anywhere. Then there are the role players teams could try to pick off: Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, David West, plus Matt Barnes.

However, Andre Iguodala is the free agent most teams are targeting. At least seven teams have Iguodala on their radar, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Andre Iguodala has become the foremost target in an attempt to weaken the Golden State Warriors’ chokehold on the NBA, league sources have told ESPN.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, LA Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz are among the teams interested in the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, sources tell ESPN. It is not yet known if Iguodala will take meetings.

Iguodala, who just finished a close second in the Sixth Man of the Year voting, still can hit threes and bring some buckets, but more importantly he brings defense, flexibility, and leadership. He’s crucial to the switching small-ball lineups the Warriors employ, and he stepped up his game last season when Durant was down. Losing Iguodala would be a blow to these Warriors.

Durant has said he will take a little less money and structure his deal so that the Warriors can retain Iguodala and Livingston, but both of them are unrestricted free agents with options.

Iguodala, 33, is coming off a four-year, $48 million deal and the Warriors would like to retain him in that ballpark of $12 million a year or a little less. The question is the years, Golden State may want to do two, Iguodala will want four, and the likely will settle at three, but that could change or have options.

For Iguodala the question becomes: what if another team comes in over the top, promising a few million more a year and a starting role? At this point in his career, does he want to stay with the Warriors and win, or would that tug on his pocketbook and ego be too much of a draw? Iguodala has said he and GM Bob Myers have been clear and up front with each other throughout the season and talked out scenarios.

Iguodala likely re-signs with the Warriors, but with a number of teams hunting him it may not be that simple a decision.