Report: Shelly Sterling meets with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to discuss sale of Clippers

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Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer answers questions at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Bellevue, Washington

Reports emerged on Friday that had Donald Sterling agreeing to allow his wife Shelly to oversee a forced sale of the Clippers, and even though the NBA will have plenty to say about any such agreement or eventual sale before something takes place, it appears as though Shelly is beginning the process.

From TMZ:

Shelly Sterling will meet with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Sunday afternoon … and the subject of the meeting is selling the Clippers … TMZ Sports has learned.

The meeting will take place at Shelly’s Malibu mansion.  TMZ Sports broke the story … Donald Sterling has surrendered control of the team to Shelly.

We’re told Shelly sees the handwriting on the wall — the NBA wants the team sold — but she wants to do it on her terms.  She and her lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell,  have been secretly meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to see if they can reach an agreement whereby Shelly has the right to voluntarily sell the team.

Ballmer was part of the group that was trying to buy the Kings and relocate them to Seattle, before Vivek Ranadive came through with an offer to purchase the team and keep them in Sacramento, which was the league’s preference.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com confirmed the report of the meeting, and also pointed out Ballmer’s recent comments in the Wall Street Journal, where he said if he ever was interested in purchasing the Clippers, he would not attempt to move the franchise.

“If I get interested in the Clippers, it would be for Los Angeles,” Ballmer said. “I don’t work anymore, so I have more geographic flexibility than I did a year, year-and-a half ago. Moving them anywhere else would be value destructive.”

Despite the Sterlings’ desire to maintain control over this process, it’s unclear if the league will allow it.

Immediately following Friday’s reports that Shelly would be negotiating a sale of the team, the NBA responded with a release saying it would be continuing on its course to terminate the current ownership interests in the Clippers, which essentially meant that in the league’s eyes, nothing had changed.

Whenever the Clippers do become available for sale somewhat officially, Ballmer may be invited to the bidding party, but so will a whole host of other groups that the NBA will have to choose from.

All that’s certain at the moment is that the league wants the Sterlings ousted as quickly as possible. If Shelly is the one best-equipped to make that happen, the NBA may in fact allow her to negotiate the sale of the team on her family’s terms. But it’s far from the priority at this stage of the proceedings.

Cavaliers’ Kendrick Perkins not into “all that new stuff” like Chewbacca

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Chewbacca was at Game 3 in Cleveland Saturday. Sitting courtside.

Why? Because growing up on Kashyyyk he played a little hoop and admires LeBron James‘ skill? Because Drake gave him the tickets? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like that was just a clever little publicity stunt for a movie.

After the Cavaliers’ win, Kevin Love decided to make a little joke of it with noted humorist Kendrick Perkins, and it went over as well as expected (with Dave McMenamin of ESPN catching it).

That’s vintage Perkins.

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

Cavaliers cruise past Celtics in Game 3, change complexion of Eastern Conference finals

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The Cavaliers were heavy favorites over the Celtics entering the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James has dominated the East for years, and Cleveland appeared to hit its stride in a sweep of the Raptors last round. Boston was shorthanded and inexperienced.

Were the Celtics’ two wins to open the series, as impressive as they were, really enough to override everything else we knew about these teams?

The Cavs walloped Boston in Game 3, 116-86, Saturday. Cleveland now has four of the NBA’s last five 30-point playoff wins – two against the Celtics last year, one over Toronto last round and tonight. (The Cavaliers lost the league’s only other 30-point game between, to the Pacers in the first round.)

Boston still leads the series 2-1, and teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series have won it 80% of the time.

But the team up 2-1 is usually the one seen as better entering the series. That isn’t the case here, not with LeBron on the other side. And the leading team usually isn’t so woeful on the road, which will remain a major storyline entering Game 4 Monday in Cleveland.

The Celtics bought themselves margin for error, but they blew a lot of it tonight.

It’d be an oversimplification to say the Cavs just played harder, but they did, and it went along way. They chased loose balls, tightened their defense and moved more off the ball offensively. Cleveland jumped to a 20-4 lead, led by double digits the rest of the way and spent most of the game up by at least 20.

LeBron (27 points, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals) dazzled as a passer and locked in as a defender. He received help from several players:

In a low-resistance effort, Boston didn’t goon up the game at all.

The Cavaliers still have plenty of work ahead to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but tonight, they showed a path to advancing. Climbing out of their early series deficit now looks far less intimidating.