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Donald Sterling Agrees to Allow Wife to Negotiate Sale of Clippers

The move, however, could have little real impact, since the NBA has not accepted the arrangement, and Rochelle "Shelly" Sterling has indicated that she wants to maintain some ownership of the team.

Patch file graphic.
Patch file graphic.

Originally posted at 10:55 a.m. May 23, 2014. Edited with new details.

A possible sale of the Los Angeles Clippers may have moved onto a faster track today with news that embattled owner Donald Sterling has agreed to allow his wife to negotiate a transfer of ownership.

The move, however, could have little real impact, since the NBA has not accepted the arrangement, and Rochelle "Shelly" Sterling has indicated that she wants to maintain some ownership of the team. However, the reported arrangement is the first indication that Donald Sterling may be willing to give up his share of the team without a fight.

Shelly Sterling and her lawyers have been in discussions with the NBA since her husband was banned for life by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver April 29 for racially tinged comments captured on audio by longtime Sterling companion V. Stiviano and released to two websites.

Until now, Donald Sterling -- represented by attorney Maxwell Blecher -- appeared ready to mount a long legal battle to keep control of the team. Blecher indicated in correspondence 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 that much of a punishment.

But a source told ESPN that Sterling has rethought his position and formally agreed to allow Shelly -- an alternate governor of the team -- to negotiate a sale.

A potential snag is that NBA by-laws prevent Sterling from transferring a controlling interest in the team to anyone. A new owner would need to be approved by the board of governors, and Shelly Sterling likely would not be approved, an ESPN source said.

The NBA this week filed charges to end Sterling's ownership of the Clippers and gave him until Tuesday -- to respond to the charges. A hearing was set for June 3 in New York, with a vote of the board of governors to oust Sterling to happen soon after. The board of governors can force a sale of the team with a two-thirds vote in support of the move.

Despite the apparent juggling in control of the team, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the league was still moving forward with its efforts to force a sale.

"We continue to follow the process set forth in the NBA Constitution regarding termination of the current ownership interests in the Los Angeles Clippers and are proceeding toward a hearing on this matter on June 3," Bass said.

Blecher asked for a three-month delay in the NBA's timeline, but was turned down.

It's unknown if Shelly Sterling intends to sell the team in its entirety, but NBA officials have made it clear that the only deal they will approve is a complete sale ridding the team from any Sterling family involvement.

The purported agreement between Donald Sterling and his wife first reported by TMZ.

--City News Service


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