NBA / Jul 21, 2014 / 9:00 pm

Report: Sterling, Ballmer Have “Friendly Conversation”

Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling

Donald Sterling (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-)

Despite a five-week offseason that’s already been more exciting and financially fruitful than any in recent memory, the black cloud of Donald Sterling still hangs over the NBA landscape. The disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner has been legally fighting Steve Ballmer’s pending $2 billion purchase of the team since since his wife, Shelley Sterling, agreed to the sale in late May. However, ESPN reports that Sterling and Ballmer had a “friendly conversation” earlier today, a welcome development in an ugly situation that will hopefully lead to Sterling finally acquiescing to the league’s rulings.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, a constant source of breaking development and unique insight on the Sterling situation since it broke three months ago, has more on the news.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling met with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles to discuss the pending $2 billion sale of the franchise, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.

While no settlement was reached, sources said the two men had a “friendly conversation” in their first face-to-face meeting since Ballmer negotiated the record-setting sale with Shelly Sterling on May 29…

Last week NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he wasn’t sure a new owner would be in place by the start of next season as Donald Sterling has vowed to fight his termination and the sale of the team.

The original agreement called for the sale to close by July 15, with a possible extension to Aug. 15. The NBA has the option of resuming termination proceedings and subsequently selling the team itself if the sale is still in limbo by Sept. 15.

The meeting was arranged Sunday night following a three-hour meeting earlier in the day between Donald and Shelly Sterling, sources said.

Donald Sterling had been preparing to file a new suit in state court on Monday morning before he and his wife spoke at length Sunday evening and he agreed to meet with Ballmer, sources said.

It was always optimistic to believe that Sterling would be officially ousted as Clippers owner in a matter of weeks after the league’s other owners approved his dismissal. That Shelley Sterling successfully found a buyer at the end of May in Ballmer was an encouraging step that direction, but her husband’s ensuing legal response ensured the process would be far longer than the NBA would like.

As Sterling has continued his battle in court to maintain ownership of the Clippers over recent weeks, there’s been little positive momentum that the sale to Ballmer would become official. So, that while the two men held mere fruitful discussion seems of little consequence on the surface, anything which suggests that Sterling could be softening his stance is noteworthy at this particular juncture.

Still, it’s best to exercise cautious optimism with regard to Sterling. If the sale to Ballmer falls through and the league begins the process of selling the Clippers itself in mid-September, it seems very possible that Sterling could own the Clippers when the 2014-2015 season officially opens – that Silver has said as much is a better indicator than any other.

For now, though, baby steps like this one are certainly encouraging.

What do you think?

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  • Alfredo Jones

    If Sterling gets by the probate hearing and still wants to block the sale – watch out. It seems like he has some viable legal arguments and may even be able to block his ouster as owner. Read the SH piece on the issue, pretty insightful: http://straighthoops.com/legally_speaking.html

  • Giant Knows

    “Acquiescing”? On a basketball blog? C’mon fam.