Before we answer the question in the title, it’s also important to see if the NBA actually allows Shelly Sterling to take control of the Los Angeles Clippers and handle the sale of the franchise, or is the league going to terminate the Sterling’s ownership and handle the transaction themselves.
Either way, there are buyers for the team. Sterling was scheduled to meet with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer was part of an effort to bring a team back to Seattle last year, but has mentioned that he has no intention of moving the Clippers, and that this situation is very different to the one we had with the Sacramento Kings.
If the opportunity is outside of Seattle, so be it. I will learn about any team that comes up for sale at this point. If I get interested in the Clippers, it would be for Los Angeles. I don’t work anymore, so I have more geographic flexibility than I did a year, year-and-a half ago. Moving them anywhere else would be value-destructive.
Another group that is reported to be interested in buying the team are the Grant Hill led troop with Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh providing most of the money, two billionaire investors and Southern California residents. Magic Johnson, who is part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, has probably been the name most often and earliest linked to taking over the team.
June 3 is when the NBA decides what happens. A hearing will take place, deciding on whether or not terminate Donald Sterling’s ownership of the team. There is also no question about future involvement of anyone from the Sterling family, as the league has stated the only way they would allow Shelly Sterling to handle the sale of the franchise is if she relinquishes any stake she has in it, forced to sell it in its entirety.
According to IRS rules, the Sterlings would have to pay a federal long-term capital-gains tax of 20% and a California tax of 13.3% and the tax would be on the difference between what the team was bought for ($13.5 million in 1981) and the price it will ultimately be sold for. For example, if the team is sold for $1 billion, the tax on the sale will be $328.5 million.
The Clippers were knocked out of the playoffs in the conference semifinals, losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Donald Sterling scandal broke out in the previous round against the Golden State Warriors, with the Clippers moving on after winning in seven games. Player tried to ignore the noise around them but made their own silent protest which also had followers around the league. Doc Rivers has been outspoken about his possible future with the team, saying he doesn’t see himself working under Sterling or his wife.