Houston Rockets Owner: Let Los Angeles Clippers Become Free Agents

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 29, 2014

Mar 4, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) and forward Blake Griffin (32) against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Clippers defeated the Suns 104-96. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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:

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:

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."