Updates from Friday, June 13
Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated has the latest on Sterling's lawsuit and the competence hearing he faces:
From July 7-10, Judge Levanas will hold a hearing to determine Donald Sterling's mental competence and control of the Sterling family trust. Both Sterlings will have medical experts testify, and neurological results from PET-CT and CT scans of Sterling's brain will be introduced. Other evidence will likely include discussion of Sterling's abrupt change of mind as to whether to sue the NBA, and his dramatic use of all caps and hyperbolic language (for example, calling league officials "despicable monsters") in statements explaining his position. It will be an intensely personal and perhaps uncomfortable experience for Donald Sterling, as it will center on others debating his cognitive abilities and limitations.
McCann also notes that the NBA could be planning a countersuit:
The league will answer Sterling's complaint by June 23, and sources tell SI.com there is a good chance the league will countersue Sterling. The NBA could raise a tortious interference with contractual relations claim, and contend that Sterling has interfered in the business relations of the NBA and one of its franchises by interfering with the sale of the team.
According to James Rainey and Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Donald Sterling has yet to give his stamp of approval on the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers because he is hopeful that the NBA will reverse course and revoke the lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine it levied against him:
Sterling recently saw a draft of a statement from the league which he thought absolved him of the penalties, but a person familiar with the NBA's position said the statement, which was not released to the public, offered no such relief.
"In terms of saying something in a draft press release that indicated they would be dismissing the lifetime ban and the fine, that is not true at all," said the person, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. "That doesn't mean that [Sterling] wouldn't have read something like that into it.
"But if they interpreted it that way that is wrong and there is no thought of lifting the lifetime ban or the fine being rescinded."
The Sterling family trust selling the Clippers to former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer was thought to be a done deal a few days ago. Brian Todd and Steve Almasy of CNN reported that Shelly Sterling signed off on the sale and for all intents and purposes, that was the end of it.
One of Sterling's attorneys, Bobby Samini, released a written statement that read:
Donald Sterling officially announces today, the NBA and Donald Sterling and Shelly Sterling have agreed to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion and various additional benefits. All disputes and outstanding issues have been resolved.
Then came the next monkey wrench into what's already been a protracted situation. Rainey reported on Thursday afternoon that Donald Sterling hadn't yet signed the official agreement that would relinquish his control of the team:
ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne reported a day before that Sterling agreed to drop his $1 billion lawsuit against the league and sell the team. The punishments previously doled out to him, though, would still be in effect:
Donald Sterling's lawyer says he will sell & withdraw lawsuit. But source says DTS hasn't gotten around to signing anything yet #yesreally— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 5, 2014
While Blecher said his understanding is that charges will be dropped. Source says he will still be banned from NBA.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 4, 2014
It was always believed that Sterling would fight the NBA right until the end, and that's exactly what he's doing. CBSSports.com's Zach Harper was less than surprised that this saga has still yet to reach a satisfactory conclusion:
Oh things aren't going smoothly after Donald Sterling made it look like it was over? THESE ARE MY SHOCKED CAPS LOCK WORDS!— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) June 7, 2014
This most recent development will likely only serve as a speed bump in the overall process. It's only a matter of time before Ballmer officially purchases the Clippers, given everything that has happened up to this point. Ballmer and the family trust agreed to the $2 billion price tag, and they've taken all the necessary steps to formally transfer ownership.
The only thing missing is Donald Sterling's signature on the agreement.