It doesn’t look like disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling plans on going away any time soon. In a statement given to ESPN LA, Sterling’s lawyer said that his client plans on fighting the NBA’s attempts to force him to sell the team, and that his agreement with Shelly Sterling that lets her sell the team has been “disavowed.”
Via ESPN LA:
Donald Sterling’s lawyer, Max Blecher, told ESPN on Tuesday that his client “is going to fight to the bloody end” and has effectively “disavowed” the agreement he reached with his wife last week that would allow her to negotiate a sale of the team.
“I don’t know what agreement she has with him, but I’m saying to you today, he disavows anything she’s doing to sell the team,” Blecher said. “He says, ‘It’s my team, and I’ll sell it when and if I get around to it.’”
Asked why Sterling seems to have had a change of heart, Blecher said, “He was in a state of shock at first. Now he’s recovering and he’s much more feisty.”
Shelly Sterling and her advisers were undeterred by Donald Sterling’s position, and continued to move swiftly to sell the team, setting a deadline of Wednesday morning for the first round of bidding on the team, sources told ESPN.
Pierce O’Donnell, the attorney for Shelly Sterling, issued a statement Tuesday stating that his client had a written agreement with her husband to sell the team and she “and the NBA are working cooperatively on the transaction.”
Shelly Sterling has retained Bank of America to help sell the franchise. ESPN reported Sunday that at least six serious groups have approached Shelly Sterling and her advisers about purchasing the team. Four of those groups are known: former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer; a group including music mogul David Geffen, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Oprah Winfrey; billionaire surgeon and entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong; and a group including former NBA star Grant Hill and Southern California businessmen Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh.
One source with knowledge of the process estimated that most of the first bids will start at $1 billion.
Bank of America made bid books with financial information on the team available to potential buyers Tuesday. The Clippers’ television rights are up in two years, a key reason the franchise could sell for more than $1 billion. However, the Clippers still have nine years remaining on their current lease with Staples Center, according to sources.
The dispute between the Sterlings comes as the NBA continues to press for a June 3 hearing of the board of governors, which will end with a vote on whether to terminate Donald Sterling’s ownership.
It has been made clear to the Sterlings that the NBA would not accept any situation in which either of them retains an interest in the team after it is sold, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.