Things are moving quickly with the sale of the Clippers ahead of the June 3rd date, when the NBA Board of Governors will convene and vote on whether to terminate Donald Sterling (and as a result, his wife Shelly as well) from ownership of the Clippers.
Setting Donald Sterling aside for a minute, his wife Shelly has been given permission to assume control of the team and handle the voluntary sale of the Clippers. She’s been meeting with bidders this week—names that include Grant Hill, Larry Ellison, Oprah Winfrey, Jimmy Iovine and many others—and final bids are said to be due at 5 p.m. on Thursday. Because a sale often requires a lot of vetting and red tape one way for this sale to be finalized within a matter of days would be if upfront cash payments are made, leaving a smaller amount to financing, which is where the hold up can occur.
As for the sale price, it’s expected that the team will sell for over $1 billion, which is a lot of money but well short of Donald Sterling’s claim earlier this week that he’s received bids in excess of $2.5 billion. Now, why is June 3rd a key date for the Sterlings? If the owners vote to strip them of their ownership of the Clippers, the team will go on the open market and the league will oversee the sale process. This means that if they sell short, the Sterlings would dictate the terms, and most importantly, they would have their pick of who they want the owners to be.
Now, here’s where Donald Sterling comes in and the entire situation gets tricky. He gave permission to his wife Shelly to sell the team, and even sent the NBA a letter on May 22nd that stated he was agreeing to the sale of the team and was authorizing his wife to do so. But he has since changed his mind, according to his lawyer. Regardless, the process is moving ahead with him, but whether this eventually lands in the courts even if Shelly can find a new owner remains to be seen.
This entire process is rushed and the turnaround time from bids to finalizing a billion-dollar sale by next Tuesday seems unrealistic, it not at all impossible (it took Apple twice as long to buy Beats By Dre.) But that’s where we’re at. Sterling’s waffling will drag this saga out for as long as possible but something’s going to have to give soon. We’ll know much more about where this is headed by next week.
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