According to several news reports, banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has agreed to let his estranged wife Shelly negotiate a sale of the team. The news was first reported by TMZ.com, which aired the secret recording of Donald Sterling’s racist rant that kick started the whole scandal:
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne followed up:
Donald Sterling has agreed to allow his wife Shelly to negotiate a forced sale of the Clippers, source tells ESPN.—
Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 23, 2014
USA Today’s Sam Amick had his own sources (via reporting by) confirming the report:
According to TMZ, Shelly was ready to contest an involuntary sale of the team. But if the NBA agrees to the deal — and there is no word from the league yet — she reportedly will have at least some say in it.
Our sources say Shelly and her lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, have been secretly meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA lawyers to “resolve the dispute amicably.” We’re told Shelly realizes the NBA wants the team sold, but she has significantly more leverage and credibility with the league than Donald. Her end game is simple — she won’t object to the sale, but SHE wants to call the shots.
Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck offers this caveat, though:
Reminder: NBA's other 29 owners have total authority to accept/reject sale to any proposed new Clippers owner. Not entirely up to Sterlings—
Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 23, 2014
TNT’s David Aldridge agrees:
Sterling "transferring" team 2 his wife is irrelevant. The NBA has to approve any transfer of controlling ownership before allowing a sale.—
David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) May 23, 2014
If the league agrees to a deal with Shelly Sterling, the NBA’s stated goal of separating the Sterlings from their stake in the team — voluntarily or otherwise — seemingly would be accelerated and, maybe more importantly, the league would sidestep what most predicted would be a protracted and costly legal battle.
Some other complications may arise, though, according to USA Today’s Amick:
There are contingencies in the agreement, a second person with direct knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. Shelly Sterling has agreed to sell the team as long as she retains a minority interest in the Clippers, according to the second person, who also requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.
It was not immediately clear whether the NBA will agree to Shelly Sterling’s terms. The NBA, which banned Sterling for life on April 29, has said its move to terminate Donald Sterling’s ownership would also terminate any other ownership interest in the team. But that process could be affected by Donald Sterling’s decision to voluntarily transfer his share of the team to his wife.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling from the NBA for life on April 29, fined him $2.5 million and said the league planned to take control of the team and sell it for his remarks that, among other things, “significantly undermine and call into question the NBA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA’s relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA’s relationship with marketing partners and licensees, as well as with government and community leaders.”
League owners are scheduled to vote on his ouster next week. It takes a 3/4 vote of the other owners, according to the NBA’s constitution, to strip Sterling of his ownership. The league then would put the team up for sale and the Sterlings would have no input in the process.
Already, speculation regarding the next owner of the Clippers is rampant. Former Lakers great Magic Johnson, Former TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey (who Forbes says is worth $2.9 billion) and many others have been said to be lining up for the right to buy the team, which is expected to go for a record $1 billion or more.
This, from ESPN’s Bill Simmons:
One more wildcard suitor: hearing Yao Ming is putting together a group of wealthy Chinese investors to make a serious run at the Clips.—
Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) May 23, 2014