For all the bravado disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling spewed about not relinquishing the team after NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced he would be forced out following the release of racially charged audio, sources say Sterling has agreed to allow his estranged wife to manage the sale of the team.
Shelly Sterling and her lawyers have been negotiating with the NBA since her husband was banned for life by Silver on April 29, according to TMZ. While the league has yet to formally accept this arrangement, sources said if Shelly is willing to sell the team in its entirety, it could bring a startlingly quick end to what appeared to be a protracted legal battle.
The NBA filed charges to terminate Sterling’s ownership of the Clippers this week. He had five business days — until next Tuesday — to respond to the charges. A hearing was set for June 3 in New York, with a vote by the board of governors to take place thereafter.
Sterling’s lawyer, Max Blecher, responded to the charges by asking for a three-month delay. That request was immediately turned down by the NBA, sources said.
Blecher indicated in his email to the NBA that Sterling intended to fight the charges and the move to terminate his ownership, saying he did not believe he’d done anything to deserve such punishment.
But a source said that over the course of this week, Sterling has rethought his position and formally agreed to allow Shelly — an alternate governor of the team — to negotiate a sale.
NBA rules, however, prevent him from transferring a controlling interest in the team to anyone. A new controlling owner would need to be approved by the board of governors, and Shelly Sterling would not be approved.
It is not known whether Shelly Sterling intends to sell the team in its entirety, but that is the only way the NBA would accept the terms of this agreement between Donald Sterling and his wife, sources said.
While Shelly Sterling’s lawyers have made it clear to the league that she intends to maintain her 50 percent interest in the team, they have also stated both publicly and privately that she would like to resolve the situation amicably.