Silver expects smooth sailing on Clippers transfer

Posted at 06/09/14 2:01 PM

SAN ANTONIO - NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he expects the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to be finalized in coming weeks, even though Donald Sterling's lawsuit against the NBA is lingering.

Silver said there are still some issues to resolve before the $2 billion sale to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer can be finalized.

The league's executive committee has to interview Ballmer before owners can cast their votes on the deal, possibly sometime next month.

"We are almost there. In terms of our owners approving Steve Ballmer, there is a few steps left in the process," Silver said Sunday at the AT&T Center arena in San Antonio prior to game two of the NBA finals. "There is additional vetting that needs to go on."

Three quarters of the remaining 29 owners must still approve the sale to Ballmer before it becomes official.

"We have pre-scheduled a board of governors meeting for mid-July. We will either vote at that meeting or possibly if all those steps are completed before then, we will vote earlier," Silver said.

The price tag, for a team that has never won a championship, would set an NBA record -- well above the record $550 million paid for the Milwaukee Bucks in April.

It would mark a massive financial return for the 80-year-old Sterling on a club he purchased in 1981 for just $12 million.

But Sterling has sued the league and Silver over sanctions that resulted when racially charged remarks he made to a girlfriend sparked outrage when they became public in April.

Silver banned him for life from all NBA activities, and fined him $2.5 million.

Efforts to strip him of the Clippers were halted when Sterling's wife, Shelly Sterling, negotiated the blockbuster sale to Ballmer.

Lawyer Maxwell Blecher said last week that Donald Sterling would drop the lawsuit seeking $1 billion in damages from the league, but Silver said he had not yet done so.

"There is the last piece and that is the lawsuit Donald brought against the league and me personally," Silver said.

"I have absolute confidence it will be resolved because as part of the sale agreement with Shelly Sterling, she agreed to indemnify the league against a lawsuit by her husband.

- 'Donald is suing himself' -

"So in essence Donald is suing himself and he knows that. While I understand he is frustrated, I think it is over."

Silver also said that Shelly Sterling would have nothing to do with the basketball franchise after the ownership transfer goes through.

"She won't have any role with the Clippers going forward," he said.

He reiterated Sunday that there are no plans to ease Donald Sterling's lifetime ban or reduce the $2.5 million fine which he has refused to pay.

Silver also said they don't need Donald Sterling to sign off on a sale.

"Donald hasn't signed the sale agreement but under their trust agreement it is not necessary that he sign," Silver said.

"Shelly went through the process outlined in the trust ... in which Donald was found incapacitated and unable to sign on his own behalf."

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