Shelly Sterling is reviewing bids from five groups interested in buying the Los Angeles Clippers, and a deal could be struck before next week's owners meeting provided both she and her estranged husband Donald relinquish total ownership in the team.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday if an agreement to sell is reached before next Tuesday, the league's owners wouldn't meet in New York to vote on terminating Donald Sterling's ownership. The individual wasn't authorized to speak publicly because the NBA is not commenting on the process.
The individual wouldn't specify the interested buyers, but says they are major players with considerable financial means. The person told the AP the sale price "appears to be increasing to an unbelievable number," and that it could soar past $1.5 to $2 billion, and possibly more.
The news comes days after Sterling handed over control of the team to his estranged wife Shelly, who plans to sell the team, according to NBC News.
It also comes just a day after the NBA's longest-tenured owner issued a defiant reponse to the league's charge against him over racist remarks he made in a recorded conversation with a companion.
Sterling's lawyers formally responded Tuesday to the NBA's charge, saying Sterling should retain his ownership because he hadn't directly violated the NBA's constitution and because and that the effort to force him to sell the team was unfair.
Sterling also charged that the recording of the conversation in which he made the racist remarks violated state law, and that expelling his family was unfair and would force them to pay a large capital gains tax.
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Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Donald Sterling authorized Shelly Sterling, in a letter dated May 22, to negotiate the sale with the league, and that a number of suitors have been in talks with her for it. That letter has not been obtained by NBC4.
A call to an attorney for Shelly Sterling was not immediately returned to NBC4.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced last month that the league planned to force Sterling to give up the team, banned him from the NBA for life and fined him $2.5 million. A 10-member committee was formed to navigate Sterling’s break from the team.
Team owners are scheduled to vote June 3 on whether to remove Donald Sterling as the team's owner. The NBA issued a statement after receiving Sterling's response that said, in part: "Should the Board vote to sustain the charge, the Sterlings' interests in the Clippers will be terminated and the team will be sold."
Approval would requrie a three-fourths majority from the league's other 29 owners to force the sale.