NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Six serious bidders for Clippers — Over the weekend, Yao Ming and Grant Hill were among the new names to enter the fray as potential purchasers of the Los Angeles Clippers if/when they become available for sale. If you’ve lost count of exactly how many people are serious bidders for the team, though, the number — according to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne — stands at six. Here’s more on who is on that short list:
Shelly Sterling has received inquiries from at least six serious bidders for the Los Angeles Clippers, sources told ESPN on Sunday. Shelly Sterling reached an agreement with her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, to negotiate a sale of the franchise after he was banned for life and fined $2.5 million by NBA commissioner Adam Silver on April 29.
Sterling’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, is handling the sale with Bob Baradaran, a managing partner at his law firm Greenberg Glusker, and Darren Schield and Doug Watson of Beverly Hills Properties, a real estate company owned by the Sterling family.
Shelly Sterling was scheduled to meet with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Sunday to discuss a possible sale of the team, according to a report on TMZ and later confirmed by ESPN.
While Ballmer was a part of the effort to bring the NBA back to Seattle last year, he said in a Wall Street Journal article last week that he is open to owning a team elsewhere.
“If the opportunity is outside of Seattle, so be it. I will learn about any team that comes up for sale at this point,” Ballmer told the Wall Street Journal. “If I get interested in the Clippers, it would be for Los Angeles. 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.”
For her part, Shelly Sterling would not consider selling the team to any group that intended to relocate the franchise, a source told ESPN.
Among the issues Shelly Sterling is considering, the source said, are the substantial tax obligations she would incur from the sale.
According to IRS rules, the Sterlings would have to pay a federal long-term capital-gains tax of 20 percent and a California tax of 13.3 percent. The tax would be on the difference between what the team was bought for and what it is ultimately sold for. If the team is sold for $1 billion, the Sterlings would be taxed $328.5 million on the sale. Sterling bought the team from Irv Levin in 1981 for $13.5 million.
No. 2: Report: Lakers considering ex-Grizz coach Hollins — Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni resigned from his post about a month ago, and since then two people — Byron Scott and Mike Dunleavy — have met with the team about their vacancy. Add another name to that list, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, as the Lakers are set to interview ex-Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins for the gig, too:
Lionel Hollins has emerged as a candidate for the Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching job, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Lakers management plans to interview Hollins later this week, league sources said.
After meeting with two candidates with Lakers ties – Mike Dunleavy and Byron Scott – Hollins is an intriguing inclusion in the process. He’s the first candidate who doesn’t have a history with the organization, but, of the three, he has the most recent track record of success in the league.
Hollins’ history of strong defensive preparation and results, as well as a serious-minded leadership style, assuredly will appeal to Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Like Lakers management, Bryant is hopeful of the team finding a proven head coach with a winning track record.
Hollins’ five-year run with the Grizzlies ended with acrimony between him and the franchise’s now deposed CEO, Jason Levien. If Hollins’ reputation had taken a hit over the departure, most in the NBA understand fully now the dysfunction and difficulty in Memphis had been mostly a byproduct of Levien’s uneven management – not Hollins.
Hollins played a significant part in cultivating the tough-minded, physical identity of the Grizzlies. Memphis star Zach Randolph had the best, most consistent years of his career under Hollins.
No. 3: Stephenson starts in on LeBron … again — The Indiana Pacers, one would think, should be concerned about evening up the Eastern Conference finals with the Miami Heat rather than getting into a war of words with LeBron James. But as Indiana finds itself in a 2-1 hole with Game 3 nearing tonight (8:30 ET, ESPN), the story du jour is about how Lance Stephenson is finding fault with James’ trash talking in Game 3 of the series. Our John Schuhmann is covering the series and has more here:
With some people, a playoff series can’t be just about basketball. Lance Stephenson appears to be one of those people.After Pacers’ practice on Sunday, Stephenson was asked about going back-and-forth with LeBron James in these Eastern Conference finals. The pair appeared to exchange pleasantries in the first quarter of Game 3 as Indiana was building a 15-point lead.
Stephenson talking to James is nothing new. James talking back is. And Stephenson believes it means that he’s doing something right.
“To me, I think it’s a sign of weakness,” Stephenson said of James’ response. “Because he never used to say nothing to me. I always used to be the one that said, ‘I’m going to get under you. I’m going to do something to get you mad.’ Now, he’s doing it to me. So I feel like it’s a weakness. I feel like I’m doing something right and I’m getting under his skin.”
James spoke to the media before Stephenson did, so he hasn’t yet had a chance to respond the the “sign of weakness” remark. You can be sure he’ll be asked about it before Game 4 on Monday.
“I’m not much of a talker,” James said earlier Sunday afternoon. “I don’t ever start it but I can get involved in it and still keep my head. Winning the game is more important. I understand what the main goal is.”
Stephenson acknowledged that he can’t get caught up in it either.
“I love it when someone challenges me,” Stephenson said. “It’s really not about me and him, though. It’s about the team. We got to have our player’s step up and have each other’s back. It’s not me against him, if he scores, I’m going to try to score. It’s more of a team.”
No. 4: Kevin Love in San Antonio? — The trade chatter surrounding Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love is only sure to ramp up as the offseason nears and his ability to opt out of his contract after next season does, too. So where could he land if he spurns Minneapolis for another destination? Could the Spurs have a realistic shot at picking him up? Ethan Sherwood Strauss at ESPN.com broaches that topic in a thoughtful blog post:
Kevin Love probably will wind up with the Lakers. Or is it the Cavs? Or could it be the Warriors, Celtics, Suns, Rockets or Bulls? What if the Heat get involved and deal Chris Bosh?
Nearly any team serves as fodder for the rumor mill, save for the best one of the past 15 years. Somehow the current title favorites are chopped liver in a league replete with rotted gristle.
In theory, the San Antonio Spurs would be a great landing spot for a star desperately in need of a winning experience. Like the Lakers, they have space for a 2015 Love signing. The Spurs also have trade pieces, depending on what they’re willing to part with and whether the Wolves value Tiago Splitter’s rim protection.
While some Spurs fans might scoff at the suggestion that Love would help the cause, there is the issue of how San Antonio replenishes what the Big Three leave behind. As Herbert Stein’s Law dictates, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Just because Tim Duncan has been successful long enough to feel timeless doesn’t mean he’s immune to time’s ravages.
Maybe it’s that there’s something almost dirty about the recruitment process that doesn’t jibe with how San Antonio is thought of. It’s difficult to envision Team Pop engaging in the debasing hucksterism of desperate middle-aged executives throwing themselves at the feet of a distracted 20-something. Then again, maybe the aversion to going after free agents is just rooted in a failed bid for Jason Kidd back in 2003.
There’s also, let’s face it, the perception that San Antonio isn’t a desirable location. Even if the current Spurs players like it just fine, superstars are assumed to prefer bigger cities and the attention that comes with living there. Nobody’s running to the Riverwalk.
That’s the rub, I think. We’re quick to focus on where superstars might want to live rather than where they might win. This is quite logical, too. If I was blessed with superstar talent, I’d probably trade championship chances to not live in, well, we’ll leave that part blank. The point is that a few NBA cities don’t stack up livability-wise to places like Los Angeles. Factor in how a few of these desired cities offer more fame by virtue of being media centers and it’s no wonder we start the free-agent gossip there.
Just as the Spurs appear to live in an ethereal plane above free-agent wooing, they also float a level above the compelling drama of sport. Spurs stakes feel small, as there will be no finger-pointing or panic moves in the aftermath of defeat. Or, from a media perspective, no fun to be had. So we’d rather focus on the draft and how a bunch of transactions could conceivably one day add up to something that will never approach the success San Antonio has accomplished.
The Spurs have shown us a lot over the years, but the collective lack of interest — from us, from superstars — in joining their journey shows us something else. The basketball media and fans aren’t as obsessed with winning as we lead on, and neither are the NBA’s superstars. That doesn’t make us bad people; it just means we have interests beyond the competition itself. With all that said, it’d be entertaining to see Kevin Love break the mold by choosing the dynasty nobody wants to join.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Have you met Thundor? Shaq did last night … Pat Riley is adding more items to his three-peat trademark patent filing … Pacers coach Frank Vogel equates the Indiana-Miami series to a big brother vs. little brother matchup … Blazers guard Mo Williams explains the mental game that players play in the playoffs … Could NBA TV analyst and ex-Wolves fan favorite Sam Mitchell be a favorite of Minnesota’s coaching job?
ICYMI of The Night: Entering Game 3, the story was whether or not injured Thunder forward Serge Ibaka would suit up. After Game 3, he was the story again for his monstrous performance in OKC’s victory …