Donald T. Sterling, Rochelle

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.

Add Kobe Bryant to don’t change hack-a-player crowd

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant gestures after hitting a three point shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press
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LeBron James is already there. So is Kevin Durant. Same with a lot of other old-school GMs and coaches around the league.

Their response to the rapid rise in hack-a-player (shouldn’t it always be hack-a-Shaq?) instances is “tell the guy to hit the free throws.”

Add Kobe Bryant to their ranks, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is starting to feel differently. He realizes he runs an entertainment business and a parade of guys to the free throw line without because of a non-basketball play — you can’t begin to tell me fouling a guy 50 feet from the ball is a basketball play in the spirit of the rules — is bad for that business. It is unwatchable. And while every coach in the NBA “I hate to do it” they all do it with more and more frequency, there will be more than twice as many instances this season as there were a year ago, with more and more players involved. Because it works, and because they are paid to win, not play beautiful basketball.

Change is coming. Old-school types always bemoan change, and that’s not just a basketball thing. But the rest of the world has rules in place to stop this because they realize it’s not basketball, it’s gaming the system. And it needs to change.

Timofey Mozgov with maybe “best” missed dunk of the season (VIDEO)

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On this play the Sacramento Kings played defense like only they can — and you wonder why George Karl’s job is in danger — and gave Cleveland’s Timofey Mozgov a wide-open lane right down the middle for an easy dunk.

Ooof.

LeBron James had a triple-double (the 40th of his career) and the Cavaliers got a needed easy win, but this is the play you’ll remember.

Karl-Anthony Towns with nasty poster dunk on Dante Cunningham (VIDEO)

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Karl-Anthony Towns is a beast.

While the Timberwolves have plenty of question marks around him, but Towns has been exceptional. Coming into Monday night, he was averaging 21.6 points (on 59.9 percent shooting) and 12.7 rebounds a night in his last 10 games.

Then Monday he did that to Dante Cunningham.

The Pelicans went on to win the game 116-102, but Towns continues to play well.

Report: Come 2017, Knicks have real shot to land Russell Westbrook

during the first half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Russell Westbrook
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The summer of 2016 is all about Kevin Durant — and we don’t know what Durant is going to do as a free agent because Durant doesn’t yet know what Durant is going to do as a free agent. Stay in Oklahoma City, bolt to the Bay Area or maybe Washington D.C.? These playoffs, meetings with teams and his advisors, plus personal factors all will play a role in Durant’s decision. Which he will get around to announcing in early July sometime.

But the sense around the league is that while Durant may very well stay in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook was drawn to the bright lights of big markets. If an elite player were to bolt OKC, this was the more likely guy. Westbrook is a free agent in 2017.

In an article about Phil Jackson and the Knicks in the wake of Derek Fisher’s firing, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the Knicks have a real shot at Westbrook in a couple of summers.

The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017 – New York and Porzingis have his attention, yes – and Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him.

Come 2017, expect Westbrook to meet with a number of big market teams on both coasts, and then make a decision. The summer of 2017 is a couple of NBA lifetimes away, it’s impossible to say what Westbrook will do (he may well decide to stay in OKC if they win enough), but the big market teams looking for a star will get their turn in the batter’s box.

Which is why I still think Durant signs a 1+1 deal this summer to stay in Oklahoma City for another season — he’s going to give everything another chance to come together for the Thunder, then when the salary cap is at its peak in 2017 (an estimated $108 million) he makes his peak seasons decision. He and Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will all be free agents at the same time, and they can make their calls.

And the Knicks could be involved in all of it.