NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the league's Board of Governors Tuesday he cannot say with certainty whether the Los Angeles Clippers will have a new owner next season due to the unknown duration of the Donald Sterling trial. According to the Los Angeles Times, Silver said while the trial was in the hands of a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, the NBA would terminate Sterling's ownership of the team if the court determined Sterling's wife Shelly had not already adequately done so by seeking a new owner. The NBA can end Sterling's ownership of the team through a special termination process under Article 14 of the NBA Constitution.
While Shelly Sterling did technically agree to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer last May, the NBA never voted to end Sterling's ownership of the team due to the unexpected alacrity with which Ballmer agreed to the purchase.
More from Silver, via the Times:
The only reason I can’t say (Sterling won't own the Clippers) with certainty is it’s possible some court would step in and stop this thing. I think it is highly, highly unlikely because we are absolutely acting within our rights. I think what’s transpired in probate court so far has made it even clearer that we are acting not only within our rights but doing what is right and appropriate in this situation.
Sterling earlier this month delivered a contentious, long-winded commentary in court in defense of his ownership of the Clippers. He referred at the time to his estranged wife, who attempted to sell Sterling's team to Ballmer without his consent, as "the only one he trusts." The following day, after Shelly testified in the trial, Sterling publicly referred to her as a "pig" and after her testimony instructed her to "get away from him" in the courtroom.
A neurologist has testified the 80-year-old Sterling is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Silver banned Sterling from the NBA for life earlier this year because of a series of racially charged comments he made.
- Will Green