With the NBA’s 30 owners scheduled to vote on the fate of Donald Sterling on June 3, a slew of potential buyers are coming out of the woodwork, eager to jump on a possible forced sale of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Add another NBA great—and one-time Clipper—to that growing list.
According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, Grant Hill is rounding up a group of heavy-hitting investors in an attempt to throw another heavy hat into what’s becoming a very crowded ring:
Sources told ESPN.com that Hill's group is already regarded by league officials as a viable contender for the Clippers in what is forecast to be a highly competitive auction when the franchise finally hits the open market. One industry source told ESPN.com this week that the bidding could start as high as the $1.5 billion range.
It was widely reported Friday that disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling has struck an agreement with wife Shelly to have her negotiate the sale of the franchise, but NBA officials have not yet signed off on that arrangement and continue to proceed with their plans to press for the outright ouster of the Sterlings from the league.
While Hill netted over $140 million in his 19-year NBA career, the expected asking price means he’ll likely be more figurehead than financial front man.
Meanwhile, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Yao Ming has denied an ESPN report hinting that the former All-Star center was rounding up a group of Chinese investors to make a play on the Clippers.
“I just heard about it in the morning my time,” Yao indicated via email. “I really don’t know where this news came from.”
After retiring at the end of last season, Hill took over the reins of the new-look NBA Inside Stuff, which he continues to co-host with Kristen Ledlow.
As far as potential faces of the franchise go, you could do a lot worse than Hill, whose charisma and affable personality helped make him a fan favorite in his prime.
Hill and his team, which includes Milwaukee Bucks minority owner Tony Ressler, will certainly face stiff competition, most notably from the rumored group of Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen and Larry Ellison.
Could Sterling opt to sell to a slightly lower bid if the buyers included a former player? Don’t count on it: Jaded and shamed as he is, Sterling will no doubt be looking to get the biggest bang for his buck (he purchased the Clippers for a cool $12.5 million back in 1981).
Still, expect the Hill group to receive plenty of love—not just from the Clippers fanbase, but from many an NBA owner and league-office executive as well.