NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: NBA believes it can oust Shelly Sterling, too — Shelly Sterling, the estranged wife of Donald Sterling, has a 50 percent ownership stake in the Los Angeles Clipper and she wants to keep it, despite the NBA attempting to remove her husband from the position. However, the NBA believes they can also remove Shelly Sterling because she was never approved by the NBA Board of Governors as a controlling owner. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com has more on the story:
The NBA believes it has the legal grounds to oust both Shelly Sterling and her husband as owners, despite the fact that commissioner Adam Silver’s punishments were specifically leveled only against Donald, according to sources with knowledge of the league’s legal strategy.
Shelly Sterling, the estranged wife of exiled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, has made it clear to the NBA that she intends to retain her 50 percent ownership interest in the team.
She has publicly and privately cooperated with the league in its actions to ban her husband for life and move to oust him from ownership. However, the league’s contention will be that Shelly Sterling — while entitled to a 50 percent interest in the franchise — has never been approved by the board of governors as the controlling owner. She and team president Andy Roeser, who went on an indefinite leave of absence this week, were only alternate governors.
In order to become the team’s new controlling owner, Shelly Sterling would have to be approved by the board of governors, which is unlikely given her association with her husband of 58 years.
Former Lakers great Magic Johnson said Friday that none of the current Clippers players would play for Shelly Sterling if she retains her ownership.
“Those guys are not going to play for anybody (named) Sterling,” Johnson told USA TODAY Sports and two other reporters at the Omni Dallas Hotel. “It’s just how it is. It’s hard to separate the two. … It’s going to be hard for them to sell that to the fans and definitely to the players.”
Miami Heat guard James Jones, the current secretary-treasurer of the players association, said Saturday that Shelly Sterling would not be a reasonable replacement for her husband.
“No, that’s not something that’s acceptable to us,” Jones said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “That’s our stance, and it hasn’t changed, and it won’t.”
Shelly Sterling’s lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, told ESPN on Friday that his client was “trying to resolve this” amicably with the NBA, but if that wasn’t possible, “We’re going to be in the courts.”
Her position, at this time, O’Donnell said, was to maintain her 50 percent interest in the team for the rest of her life. However, she does not want to be the team’s controlling owner and would welcome “a new, dynamic management team and investors to come in.”
That leaves open the door for a compromise that could avoid a protracted legal battle, sources said.
“Court cases can be protracted. We saw what [Frank and Jamie] McCourt did with the Dodgers. We don’t want to reprise the McCourt spectacle,” O’Donnell said. “This is a great franchise. Shelly’s been a co-owner in the darkest days. And now, ‘Go Clippers!’ maybe we can bring an NBA championship to this city this year. But if she has to fight, she’ll fight. We respect property rights in America. We have due process. And she will fight to retain her interests.”
Shelly Sterling has publicly distanced herself from her estranged husband -whom she’s been separated from for the last few years — since the scandal broke two weeks ago. “Donald’s on his own,” O’Donnell said. “She’s distanced herself from him, she’s repudiated his racist statements. He has nothing to do with the team anymore, he can’t go to the games. What happens to Donald, happens to Donald. She wants to retain her interests.
“Shelly was found by commissioner Silver to be blameless. This is about Donald. Push Donald out, but don’t throw his innocent wife over the cliff.”
No. 2: Cavs close to naming permanent GM — David Griffin has served as the Cleveland Cavaliers interim general manager since February 6, when owner Dan Gilbert fired Chris Grant. It now looks like Griffin will soon be the permanent GM for Cleveland, who hold the ninth slot in the NBA Draft Lottery which will take place Tuesday, May 20. Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Cleveland Plain Dealer with more:
After Griffin took over for Grant, the team responded with a six-game winning streak — its longest since the 2009-10 season — and went 17-16 the rest of the season, remaining in the playoff hunt until the final week of the season.
One of the key factors was that less than two weeks after being named, Griffin acquired Spencer Hawes from Philadelphia at the trading deadline.
Griffin, 44, joined the Cavs as vice president of basketball operations in 2010, after Danny Ferry resigned as general manager and Grant was promoted to that position. Before joining the Cavs, Griffin spent 17 years with the Phoenix Suns, starting as an intern in communications and working his way up to Suns senior vice president of basketball operations. He also was the Suns assistant general manager of player personnel, director of player personnel, assistant director of player personnel, basketball operations assistant and media relations assistant.
In addition, he also served as the tournament director of the Nike Desert Classic and was an assistant coach at Scottsdale Community College.
As a kid growing up in Phoenix, Griffin’s goal was to become general manager of the Suns. Before he even graduated from Arizona State in 1995, he was working for Jerry Colangelo‘s team in a variety of roles that prepared him for the job he is now about to begin.
“You never know what’s in someone’s future when you start off getting your foot in the door and getting your first job,” Colangelo told The Plain Dealer earlier this year. “He was always very diligent, a very hard worker and he just wanted a chance or an opportunity. He was ambitious. He had his sights set on much higher things. I’m not sure he knew at the beginning what that might mean, but he wanted to advance. He wanted to move up the ladder.
“So he paid his dues, he really did, in every sense of the word. Here’s a guy who has been somewhat of a lifer who now has his opportunity, but he’s earned that. It wasn’t gifted to him. It wasn’t handed to him. He paid his dues along the way and did a great job. Now he’s got a chance to pave his own future.”
No. 3: Amar’e endorses Steve Kerr — New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire has experience with Steve Kerr from his time with the Phoenix Suns when Kerr was general manager of the team. Stoudemire “adored” his championship mentality and endorses his bid for coach of the Knicks. Ian Begley of ESPN New York has more:
Steve Kerr hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll become the head coach of the Knicks. But if he ends up in New York, Kerr will have a strong supporter in Amar’e Stoudemire.
“I like Steve Kerr. For one, when he was a GM (in Phoenix, when Stoudemire was with the Suns) he was always preaching about winning and winning a title and that’s something that I adored about him,” Stoudemire said earlier this week on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on ESPN Radio. “And then also, secondly, he has a formula to win; he’s been a winner in this league before. He wants to win. And he reminds me of somewhat of a player-coach that knows the game and knows what players go through as far as ups and downs throughout the year and that’s going to help him.”
Kerr, according to an NBA source, is with his family in San Diego contemplating offers to coach the Knicks and the Warriors or remaining with TNT as a broadcaster. The Knicks are believed to be the favorite, thanks to Kerr’s strong ties to Knicks president Phil Jackson. It is unclear if either team has made a formal contract offer.
The Knicks are expected to offer a deal that is close in length to the five-year contract Jackson signed in March. If New York ends up in a bidding war with Golden State over Kerr’s services, it would surprise many around the league if Knicks owner James Dolan loses that fight.
There is one aspect of the Kerr-Golden State dynamic that appears in the Knicks’ favor. There is somewhat of a split in the Warriors organization in its support for Kerr. Two sources told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday that management prefers Kerr but some players have privately expressed support for another candidate, Stan Van Gundy.
If Kerr ends up in New York, Stoudemire is confident he can thrive under the leadership of Kerr and Jackson. The 11-year veteran pointed out that versatile big men such as Pau Gasol have thrived in Jackson’s triangle offense.
“I think what he looks for in bigs are bigs that have multiple skills,” Stoudemire said. “You better shoot the ball from the outside, put the ball on the floor when need be, make great passes out of double-teams, sort of being a pressure-release guy. Versatile bigs are what I think he looks for and that’s what I am.”
No. 4: Warriors don’t expect to land Kerr — More Kerr news. The Golden State Warriors reportedly would love to hire Kerr, as well. Especially since Kerr and Warriors owner Joe Lacob have been family friends for years. But they reportedly don’t expect to land him with Kerr deep in negotiation talks with Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks for their coaching position. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports:
Sources told ESPN.com that the Warriors fear Kerr is “too deep” in talks with the Knicks and new shot-caller Phil Jackson to convince Kerr to rebuff Jackson now, despite Kerr’s close relationship with Warriors owner Joe Lacob and team president Rick Welts, as well as Golden State’s proximity to Kerr’s offseason home in San Diego.
But sources also stressed that Stan Van Gundy is actually the closest thing to a top target at this early stage of Golden State’s search for a successor to the fired Mark Jackson, based at least in part on the premise that an experienced coach can ensure that the Warriors maintain upward momentum in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
ESPN.com reported April 29 that the Knicks were pressing to try to get Kerr formally signed as their new coach when the first round of the playoffs ended, partly because they knew other teams would soon pursue the TNT broadcaster. The Knicks, though, were forced to relent on that timetable and continue to negotiate with former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannebaum, who is serving as Kerr’s representative.
The Warriors immediately joined the list of prime suitors for Kerr after firing Mark Jackson on Tuesday. ESPN.com also reported earlier this week that the Utah Jazz hoped to court Kerr for their opening as well.
Kerr has been huddling with family members in advance of his next TV assignment with TNT: Tuesday’s Game 5 of the Oklahoma City/Los Angeles Clippers series. A timetable for striking a deal with the Knicks remains unclear, but nothing has yet managed to threaten New York’s longstanding status as the favorite to land Kerr as its successor to Mike Woodson.
The longer it goes without New York and Kerr closing a deal, according to one source, does give the Warriors a small measure of hope that Kerr would give them renewed consideration. But the consistent word for days in coaching circles holds that Kerr — who, at 48, has never coached at any level — would find it hard to walk away from Jackson at this advanced stage of negotiations because of the pair’s close relationship.
Kerr is that rare individual in the NBA who can claim both Jackson and one of Jackson’s oldest rivals — San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich — as mentors. As such, Kerr is said to be highly optimistic about Jackson’s ability to make a major impact as a rookie executive with the Knicks, which runs counter to the more common skepticism about Jackson’s effectiveness in his new job. Only in New York, furthermore, would Kerr have the chance to be mentored by a championship coach, reminiscent of the way Pat Riley groomed Erik Spoelstra in Miami.
Sources say that the Warriors, meanwhile, are still establishing a list of candidates to consider, with Van Gundy — after successful stints coaching the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic — still at the front of that line.
ESPN.com reported last Sunday that Van Gundy and Kerr were Golden State’s top two choices if Mark Jackson were fired. Van Gundy doesn’t have the close ties with Warriors management that Kerr has, but he does have a decorated resume that undoubtedly intrigues Warriors officials, who are under some pressure to make a splashy hire to replace the ousted Jackson after all the public support he received from Golden State star Stephen Curry and other Warriors players.
In a radio interview Thursday with 740 AM in Orlando, Van Gundy admitted that he’s not sure if he’s ready to return to coaching after spending the past two seasons in broadcasting and focusing on family time.
“Part of me does, and part of me doesn’t,” Van Gundy told the network. “Look, we’re so happy in Central Florida. It would really have to be a great situation for me to get back in. I miss a lot of it. I really do. I miss the competition. I miss the challenge. I miss the camaraderie of it. But I also like the time that I’ve had, so we’ll just have to see what happens. You weigh every situation.
“Names come up on every job, and my name’s been mentioned in a few,” Van Gundy continued. “But I think the Warrior one comes up because I’m from out there. I went to high school in the Bay Area. I grew up out there. I said several times during my coaching career when we would go play out there that it was always important to me playing out there because I grew up [there].”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Lionel Hollins is expected to interview for the Warriors’ coach position this week in Chicago. … John Wall is hampered by a scratched eye he obtained in Game 3, which continues to affect his vision. … Giannis Antetokounmpo stars in a Greek commercial for chocolate milk. … LeBron James is excited to watch quarterback Johnny Manziel play football with the Cleveland Browns.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY: Celebrate Mother’s Day today by watching newly crowned MVP Kevin Durant discuss the importance of his mom on NBA TV’s Inside Stuff:
VIDEO: Inside Stuff: KD