Donald Sterling has surrendered control of the Los Angeles Clippers to his estranged wife, who will sell the team, sources told NBC News, after his recorded racist rant was published online last month.
NBC4 has not independently confirmed the report and has left messages seeking comment from attorneys for Rochelle Sterling and Donald Sterling.
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ESPN reported that Rochelle Sterling has been meeting with lawyer Pierce O’Donnell and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to be put her in control and avoid an involuntary sale of the team.
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"Sterling has probably realized that he doesn't have a future as head of Clipper nation," NBC4 legal analyst Royal Oakes said. "He hasn't been voted off the island yet, but he knows he's a pariah ... The value of the team will go into the toilet as long as he's associated, so why not make a deal now?"
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.
The NBA issued a response to the reports late Friday morning.
“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," said NBA spokesman Mike Bass.
Team owners are scheduled to vote June 3 on whether to remove Donald Sterling as the team's owner.
"We stand behind our league and we stand behind what they've done, and whatever they do moving forward, we're all going to have to move forward with it," Miami Heat player Dwayne Wayne said.
The NBA has not responded to the reports and it was not immediately clear how a transfer of ownership would be handled by the league. The NBA Constitution addresses transfer of membership in Article 5, stating that "An application requesting approval of a transfer must be made in writing to the Commissioner by the applicable Member (on behalf of the transferring Owner) promptly after an agreement with respect to such transfer has been reached."
Rochelle Sterling had previously said that she would vie to keep the team in her family’s hands, despite the NBA’s attempts to force the sale of the organization.
In response to vows Rochelle Sterling made earlier this month about keeping her share of the team, the NBA released a statement that said if a controlling owner's interest is terminated by a three-fourths vote of the other league owners, "all other team owners' interests are automatically terminated as well. It doesn't matter whether the owners are related as is the case here. These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team."
The statement cited the NBA constitution and bylaws, a more-than-90-page document that outlines the commissioner's broad powers when it comes to terminating ownership of a team.