NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced some grave news that no one in the NBA universe wanted hear on July 15. Silver proclaimed that it is possible that Donald Sterling still may be the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers at the start of the season.
No, I cannot say with certainty [Sterling won't still own the team], and I can't say with certainty because it's in the hands of the probate court right now, and Donald is in the process of suing us for lots of money, and we're defending ourselves against those lawsuits," Silver said. "…I can say with certainty we are doing everything in our power to move Donald out as an owner in the NBA.
Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling’s wife, agreed to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 million on May 30 . However, the Sterlings are currently in a legal battle over Shelly’s attempt to have Donald declared mentally incompetent, thus giving her the power to sell the Clippers to Ballmer.
Sterling has been very combative on the stand since initially testifying on July 8. And it is believed that Sterling will use his considerable tricks to delay a ruling, thus making Shelly and Silver’s lives miserable. The trial will resume on July 21 and closing arguments are set for July 28.
Silver told the Los Angeles Times that the league would move to terminate Sterling’s ownership of the Clippers if the Los Angeles Probate Court judge eventually ruled that his wife did not act accordingly in finding a buyer for the franchise.
“If the probate ruling doesn’t go in our favor, we will re-commence our procedures under termination,” Silver added.
According to the Orange County Register, had the NBA received terms of a settlement from Donald Sterling there would have been no trial. Silver admitted he never received a proposal from Sterling that would’ve allowed for the league and the owner to potentially work out a deal in the sale of the team.
The NBA banned Sterling for life from the NBA, fined him $2.5 million and immediately began a push to force him to sell his ownership of the Clippers on April 26 after he was recorded telling his reported girlfriend not to bring African-American friends to games.
Ballmer and Silver were both at a meeting of the NBA’s board of governors on July 15 where Ballmer reiterated his desire to buy the Clippers while being interviewed by the league’s finance committee. Ballmer’s $2 billion offer has technically has expired, but there is a provision in place to extend the negotiations another month.
The NBA never took an official vote to end Donald Sterling’s ownership due to the speed that Shelly Sterling had a deal in place with Ballmer.