In light of the racist comments allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Houston Rockets head man Leslie Alexander spoke with NBA commissioner Adam Silver about possible actions the league could take.
"I thought that there's got to be a way to disrupt him from owning the team," Alexander said, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. "I gave him the sword to deal with this. I said, 'Let the players become free agents.'"
Alexander's hope is that the removal of Sterling's players would force the Clippers owner to sell his team. As Alexander explained, the league's bylaws do not allow for an outright expulsion in this situation.
"The constitution (of the NBA) only allows him to be removed except for gambling," Alexander said. "I'm not sure that legally can be done. But if he loses his players, nobody is going to want to go there. ... And who is going to want to coach there?"
The commissioner will be holding a press conference Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the situation, via TNT analyst David Aldridge:
ICYMI, and since I just got off a plane: Adam Silver presser will be in New York tomorrow at 2 p.m. EDT.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) April 28, 2014
What will remain uncertain until Silver has the chance to address the topic is how far the commissioner can go with his punishment. The league's constitution is not available to the public, and the reprehensible comments allegedly made by Sterling could move the league into uncharted waters.
"Sterling deserves to be expelled from the league and barred from ever setting foot again in an NBA arena," Bleacher Report's Howard Beck wrote. "But there is no precedent in this area, and it is legally questionable whether the NBA can force an owner to sell."
What is certain, however, is that more people than just Alexander are calling for Sterling to be dismissed:
LeBron: "There is no room for Donald Sterling in our league. There's just no room for him."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) April 26, 2014
Paul Pierce on Sterling "There's no place in the game for things like this, for owners like this. ... The NBA is def. going to take action."— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) April 27, 2014
"If it's true, and it's him [on the audio], there's no place in the league for Donald Sterling in my mind." -- TNT's Ernie Johnson— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 26, 2014
That sentiment, of course, doesn't grant Silver an avenue to remove Sterling, though. The league will likely explore all possible punishments that can be handed down before deciding how to proceed.
External pressures may wind up heavier than any sanctions within Silver's powers.
Several major corporate sponsors have already cut ties with the Clippers. According to USA Today's David Leon Moore, CarMax, State Farm Insurance, Kia Motors America and Mercedes-Benz were among the many to suspend their partnerships with the organization.
There are also rumblings around the league from agents, players and coaches about how this would impact their own dealings with the Clippers:
I couldn't play for him— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 26, 2014
NBA agent @ChrisLuchey says that he will steer his clients away from the L.A. Clippers due to Donald Sterling's comments.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) April 27, 2014
Mark Jackson on whether he would work for the Sterling Clippers: "I can not right now. Knowing the mentality, I can not."— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) April 27, 2014
Doc on whether he could continue working with Sterling: "I don't know yet."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 27, 2014
Silver's hands might be tied in terms of the actions he's allowed to take, but he'll have assistance in handling this troubling situation. From corporate-money losses to external targets refusing to consider suiting up for the Clippers, Sterling could be backed into a corner without a push from the commissioner.
Before these racially charged comments surfaced, Sterling already had a troubling history. Sending the entire Clippers roster to free agency might be too drastic, but a situation like this might call for a drastic solution.
"If you're a player in the NBA you don't want to play for somebody like that," Alexander said, via Feigen. "If you worked for a company, you would walk away and say, 'I'm gone.' I think the players should have that right."