In the end, this may all be moot.
However Shelly Sterling is feverishly still collecting bids and hopes to have a handshake deal to sell the Clippers to one of the bidders in place by Monday, before the league’s other owners scheduled to vote on the charges against Donald Sterling on Tuesday, potentially stripping him of his ownership.
Among those bids is a big one from Steve Balmer reports Forbes.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has offered $1.8 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers, according to a person familiar with Ballmer’s interest in the NBA team. Ballmer, who retired as Microsoft’s CEO four months ago has a net worth of $20 billion. Another source, with intimate knowledge of the bids that Rochelle Sterling has thus far received for the basketball team, said offers have come in between $1 billion and $2 billion and that the Ballmer package is strong.
There are other groups allegedly interested, reportedly at least six. The “super group” of Larry Ellison, Oprah Winfrey and David Geffen — now with two of the Guggenheim group guys (Magic Johnson’s investors) — has the ability to outbid anybody and likely do it in cash. Grant Hill’s group is said to have bid $1.2 million. Don’t count out the reported “richest man in Los Angeles,” medical researcher and business man Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who already owns four percent of the Lakers and has been vetted by the league.
But again, this may all be moot.
Donald Sterling — still the official controlling owner in the eyes of the league (Shelly owns half through a trust but is not the recognized lead owner by the league) — is saying he doesn’t want to sell (his attorney says he changed his mind from when he gave a letter to Shelly Sterling saying to try and sell the team). The league’s owners may vote the Sterlings out as owners on June 3 and handle the sale themselves — the league is not slowing down it’s process. If one were cynical you would say this rushed sale could all be part of Donald Sterling’s grand plan to get a franchise valuation as part of his planned lawsuit against the league.
On top of it all there was this tweet from Bill Simmons of ESPN and Grantland:
If true, I would think all those smart business men and women would know better than to give the Sterlings a non-refundable deposit right before the league’s owners votes on removing them.
Adam Silver has to see the media circus around this and knowing that the vote is going to come two days before the start of the NBA Finals, Silver is going to push to end this. Whatever the league does, however Sterling reacts, it will cast a shadow over the NBA Finals.
What Silver wants is that shadow gone by the start of next season. For that reason the league is not going to slow down.