The Clippers interim CEO painted a bleak picture on the witness stand this week — if Donald Sterling still owns the team when next season starts it could lead to a “death spiral” of players, coaches and sponsors boycotting and trying to get out.
Chris Paul wants you to know that’s not just hyperbole.
The Clippers All-Star point guard and team leader was in Las Vegas this week and spoke to ESPN about the possibility of a boycott if Sterling is not removed by the opening tip-off of next season.
“That’s something me and Doc are both talking about,” Paul said on Thursday after coaching his AAU program, CP3. “Something has to happen, and something needs to happen soon — sooner rather than later….
“We’re all going to talk about it,” Paul said. “We’re all definitely going to talk about it. Doc, Blake [Griffin], DJ [DeAndre Jordan]. It’s unacceptable.”
Much like Parsons on the stand it benefits Paul — the president of the players’ union — to talk tough and paint a bleak picture here to keep pressure on the league. The owners and players are on the same page here, Sterling is bad for the other owners’ business and nobody wants to be answering questions about him when the season starts. But it never hurts for the players to keep some pressure on the owners here.
However, that doesn’t mean Rivers, Paul, Blake Griffin or anyone else is eager to blow this thing up, something PBT has heard from multiple sources. Doc Rivers isn’t looking to bolt down the hall at Staples Center. The Clippers core realizes they are a team on the cusp and believe they have a real title shot as a group in the next couple of years.
If Donald Sterling is the owner come the start of the season the players may want to make a statement.
Which is another reason the league will not let it get to that.
The NBA hopes the judge in the probate case between Donald and Shelly Sterling (which has closing arguments next week) will rule in the coming weeks for Shelly and do so in such a way to make Sterling’s appeal nearly impossible (something he can do and Shelly’s lawyers have pushed for). Do that and the league will approve the sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion quickly and Donald’s other lawsuits will be reduced to a nuisance. He will be out and that is a much cleaner process for the league and its owners.
If the judge rules for Donald or leaves the door open for an appeal process that could drag out, the league can always just take the step it was going to originally and have the other owners vote to revoke Sterling’s franchise. (This is something they can do because being an NBA owner is like being admitted to a country club where the other owners can choose who gets to be in the club.) You can be sure a smart lawyer like Commissioner Adam Silver knew he had the votes to do this before he suggested it back when this first broke.
The league reportedly has let Shelly Sterling and Ballmer know that if by Sept. 15 this is not resolved and the team is not under new ownership then the league will proceed with the vote to out Donald and re-do the sale through a blind bid (although that likely brings in less money this time around).
One way or another they want Sterling out by the start of the season.
In part to avoid what Chris Paul might do.