Report: Clippers’ Donald Sterling to sue NBA to block forced sale of team

60 Comments

Everyone around the NBA expects this day is coming.

Donald Sterling is a litigious man and one who does not give up his holdings easily. When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver walked to the podium and brought the hammer down on Sterling for his racist comments — a lifetime ban, a $2.5 million fine and efforts to force a sale of the team — he knew he needed solid legal ground because Sterling would sue to block it.

And Sterling will, a source told the New York Daily News.

Donald Sterling won’t go down without a fight, according to an NBA executive who is close to the disgraced owner of the Clippers, and will sue the league if the other 29 owners vote to force him to sell….

“He is not going to sell the team,” the executive said….

As the Daily News reported Wednesday, if Sterling sues, he would likely base his case on language in the NBA constitution that deals with conduct that constitutes “willful acts,” a term that can be difficult to interpret and enforce. Generally those acts include criminal behavior, financial instability or gambling or fixing games.

Sterling is reportedly battling cancer, but don’t think that will cause him to change his outlook and decide to just walk away. That’s not who he is. Plus, his identity is wrapped up in owning the Clippers — he loves basking in the glow of celebrity, of people kissing up to him.

One other factor in here — money. Specifically taxes, and the future of the franchise in his family. Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million, if he sells the team now for whatever price, he has to pay a roughly 33 percent state and national capital gains tax. A lot of people think the sale price for the Clippers will approach $1 billion, to use that number Sterling would have to pay capital gains tax on $987.5 million, or roughly $329 million in taxes.

However, if one of his family members inherits the team, then he or she sells the team, they are only responsible for the capital gains tax on how much the franchise value increased on their watch. Which is to say, if the franchise is valued at $800 and his wife/son-in-law gets the team and sells it for $1 billion, they only pay the tax on $200 million, or a relatively reasonable $66 million?

The league has already started the process to expel Sterling. Expect his response to come soon.

Kevin Durant’s brother says Instagram comment wasn’t about star leaving Warriors this summer

AP Photo/Ben Margot
Leave a comment

Rumors about Kevin Durant leaving the Warriors are intensifying. Even people within the Golden State organization are bracing themselves for him to depart in free agency next summer.

Not even the Warriors collecting their championship rings could stop the momentum.

In fact, last night’s celebration contributed to the noise.

Kevin’s brother, Tony, commented on Kevin’s Instagram post featuring the rings, “Filling the hand up before we get outta here!”

Rob Perez of The Action Network:

My best guess was “here” meant the Warriors’ arena in Oakland. This is their last season there before moving to a new arena in San Francisco Francisco.

Or maybe “here” meant in the NBA. Careers in the NBA are finite.

Another thought that crossed my mind: “Here” could have meant in this world. Lives, too, are finite.

The only clear part: Tony wants Kevin to win a handful of rings. The deadline is nebulous.

Of course, the loudest speculation was “here” meant playing for the Warriors and this being the last run. But Tony sharply denied that.

Perez:

If you want to be a conspiracy theorist, perhaps Tony meant leaving Golden State after this season but Kevin just instructed him to downplay it to quiet chatter. I suppose that’s possible, though it wouldn’t jibe with Kevin’s tell-the-truth-about-free-agency approach.

Occam’s Razor suggests taking Tony at his word, and that’s what I’ll do.

Report: Tom Thibodeau raised asking price for Jimmy Butler after infamous practice

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
3 Comments

After sitting out while awaiting a trade rehabbing after injuring his wrist, Jimmy Butler practiced with the Timberwolves for the first time last week. He reportedly showed up late, talked a ton of trash and led third-stringers to a win over the starters then left early.

Amidst widespread speculation they had to trade Butler after that, the Tom Thibodeau-run Timberwolves put out word they considered it their best practice of the year.

Maybe Thibodeau is that insanely competitive. Maybe he was just trying to preserve leverage.

If it were the latter, he sure stuck to his story.

Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:

Teams who talked to Minnesota after his first practice, literally the day after his practice, Minnesota was asking for more then than they were before the day. Which tells you this: Minnesota is not trading him. They’re asking for packages that know teams aren’t going to agree to.

The Timberwolves are in a though spot. Butler is an excellent player, but everyone knows he wants out. I don’t blame them for trying to maximize their limited leverage.

How will Butler react to this revelation, though? Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he told Butler the team would seek a trade. Butler pledged to play hard in the meantime.

But if Butler playing hard just makes it less likely Minnesota will trade him, will he feel as if the team isn’t holding up its end of the bargain? Then what?

It has long seemed Taylor and Thibodeau are on different pages on several issues. Though Taylor just backed Thibodeau, Butler could drive a wedge even deeper between the owner and president-coach.

Russell Westbrook sneak-snacking steals show on NBA’s opening night

1 Comment

NBA’s opening night was quite tame. The Celtics and Warriors won as expected, neither the 76ers nor Thunder mounting much of a challenge.

That allowed Russell Westbrookout with an injury — to have the most fun moment when he looked around deviously, turned to his side and ate something.

What did did Westbrook eat? Was he not supposed to be eating? Did he not want to share? Big questions remain unanswered surrounding this important incident.

Joel Embiid on 76ers-Celtics: ‘This is not a rivalry … They always kick our ass’

2 Comments

The 76ers-Celtics rivalry is being renewed.

But it’s not there yet, according to Philadelphia center Joel Embiid.

The 76ers are 3-19 against Boston since drafting Embiid, and though that includes multiple tanking years, Philadelphia hasn’t fared much better since getting good. The 76ers went 2-7 against the Celtics last season, including 1-4 in their second-round playoff series. Philadephia followed that with a season-opening loss to the Celtics last night.

Embiid, via Matt Haughton of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“JJ (Redick) mentioned it earlier, this is not a rivalry,” Embiid said to reporters after the Sixers’ 105-87 season-opening loss to the Boston Celtics (see observations). “I don’t know our record against them but it’s pretty bad. They always kick our ass.”

I appreciate Embiid’s directness. We can all see the problem. There’s no point denying it.

The subtext is Embiid’s motivation to change this status quo, and a lot of it does fall in Embiid. Al Horford has given him fits. Even Aron Baynes worked him at times last night. Embiid is talented and far younger than those two. He’ll eventually get there.

In the meantime, he’s not mincing words.