Los Angeles Clippers Rumors

Judge Rules In Favor Of Shelly Sterling

July 28 at 5:20pm CDT By Zach Links

5:20pm: NBA Executive Vice President Mike Bass issued a statement on today’s ruling (via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports on Twitter):

We are pleased that the court has affirmed Shelly Sterling’s right to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer.  We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible.”

4:45pm: The judge in the trial between Donald and Shelly Sterling ruled in favor of the embattled owner’s wife today, saying she had “reasonable” belief Donald authorized her to sell the Clippers and that her testimony was “far and away” more credible than Donald’s, tweets Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times.  Most importantly, the judge also made a ruling under 1310(b) of California Probate Code, according to Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles (on Twitter), and that essentially makes the decision “appeal-proof“.

The move seemingly seals the deal for former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to officially complete his purchase of the Clippers.  If this is indeed the end of the Sterling saga, it will be a great relief to the league office as well as many members of the Clippers.  Matt Barnes was the latest Clipper to raise the specter of a boycott if Donald Sterling remains, as we noted earlier.  Coach/president Doc Rivers and star guard Chris Paul were also among those who have been considering drastic measures if Sterling was not ousted by the start of the 2014/15 campaign.

Last week, Clippers interim CEO Dick Parsons testified that if Sterling stayed and Rivers were to leave, it would spell doom for the franchise.

If Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster,” Parsons said, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “Doc is the father figure of the team. Chris [Paul] is the on-court captain of the team. But Doc is really the guy who leads the effort. He’s the coach, the grown-up, he’s a man of character and ability — not just in a basketball sense, but in the ability to connect with people and gain their trust. The team believes in him and admires and loves him. If he were to bail, with all the other circumstances, it would accelerate the death spiral.”

Today’s clean sweep ruling should be the final step towards making Ballmer’s $2 billion purchase official, but Donald Sterling has a long history of dragging things out in court.  The NBA certainly hopes that this will be the end of what has been a bizarre and ugly series of events for the league.

Pacific Notes: Thompson, Young, Clippers

July 28 at 9:06am CDT By Chuck Myron

Every coach in the Pacific Division next season will be in either his first or second season on the job. Presumably that group will include Byron Scott, who says he has just a few loose ends to tie up before he’s the next coach of the Lakers. Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are confident that the Warriors aren’t looking to break up the “Splash Brothers” backcourt tandem with a trade that sends Thompson to the Wolves for Kevin Love, as the Golden State guards tell Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Thompson said new coach Steve Kerr gave him the “vibe” that he won’t be traded. Kerr is reportedly among the advocates within the team’s brass for keeping Thompson.
  • Nick Young says he feels like the Lakers made him a priority when they re-signed him to his new four-year deal, but he acknowledged he might not have ended up with the team had Carmelo Anthony decided to go to L.A., as he tells Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Matt Barnes said it’s realistic that Clippers players would boycott if Donald Sterling remains the owner into next season, as he said in an appearance on The Chris Mannix Show on NBC Sports Radio (Facebook link; hat tip to USA Today’s Nina Mandell). Still, he acknowledged that with the process tied up in court, he just wants to see the NBA move “swiftly and abruptly” toward Sterling’s ouster. “It’s tough,” he said. “I think you guys [the media] are like we are, we’re not exactly sure how far they can push it. We know where they stand and what they want. At the end of the day it comes down to legalities and business, stuff that has to be handled in a court of law. It’s a very touchy, very iffy situation. We’re about two months out from camp, and I think as it gets closer and as we get a better understand of what’s going to happen I think you will have a better idea of what we are going to do.”

Western Notes: Love, Miller, Lakers, Clippers

July 26 at 9:46pm CDT By Cray Allred

Kevin Love and the Wolves were likely on the same page regarding his decision to sit out this summer’s Team USA activity, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com. Mannix gets the sense that both sides were in favor of a cautious approach so that an injury won’t throw a wrench in the trade market for Love. Here’s more from out West:

  • The Wolves’ chance to convince Love to remain in Minnesota beyond this season has passed, writes Charley Walters of St. Paul Pioneer Press. Walters says the power forward will not be persuaded at this point, and that his preference is to play with LeBron James in Cleveland, which aligns with the rumored trade request we passed along this morning.
  • Darius Miller‘s deal with the Pelicans is a two-year, partially guaranteed contract for the minimum salary, according to the New Orleans salary sheet updated by Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.
  • Pincus grades the Lakers offseason, giving the team poor marks for striking out on their free agent targets, in a piece for the Los Angeles Times.
  • Fellow Los Angeles Times scribe Broderick Turner judges the Clippers‘ offseason a modest success. Turner thinks it’s possible the addition of Spencer Hawes could help nudge the team closer to the very top of the Western Conference.

And-Ones: Villanueva, Grizzlies, Clippers

July 26 at 2:31pm CDT By Charlie Adams

The NBA is looking to extend the All-Star break into a seven day hiatus from regular season play, reports Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. The longer break will likely be in effect for the 2014/15 campaign, says Winderman, who adds that the increased time off at midseason will mean an extra set or two of back-to-back games for clubs around the league. Let’s look at a few more miscellaneous notes from around the NBA..

  • Free agent Charlie Villanueva remains unsigned after working out for multiple teams, but is excited about chronicling the process in his own web series despite the uncertainty, as he tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press“It’s been five years with the Pistons and that road has come to an end, but I have a couple things lined up,” Villanueva said. “One of the things obviously is working out for some teams, but at the same time capturing every moment of free agency and what I’m going through.”
  • After recently narrowing the field of candidates, the Grizzlies search for a GM-in-waiting has stalled, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe (on Twitter). Lowe’s sources say that it’s now possible Memphis doesn’t hire anyone as the successor in waiting for current GM Chris Wallace. The Grantland scribe suggests the team could promote from within the organization, citing in-house counsel Joe Abadi as a hot name.
  • Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe clues readers in about Natalie Nakase, an assistant video coordinator for the Clippers with ambitions of becoming the first female head coach in NBA history.

Cray Allred contributed to this post.

Buycks Spurns NBA Offers To Play In Spain

July 25 at 8:42am CDT By Chuck Myron

Former Raptors point guard Dwight Buycks has signed with Valencia of Spain, the Spanish ACB league’s website announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). It’s a one-year deal, as Euroleague.net reveals. The Lakers and Clippers extended non-guaranteed invitations to Buycks for preseason camp, according to David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link), and he was close to signing with the Nuggets before they instead came to terms with Erick Green, as Pick tells Hoops Rumors. The Suns were also reportedly interested in him.

The Relativity Sports client drew offers from multiple teams overseas, but Valencia bid highest among those clubs, Pick reports (All Twitter links). It’s likely he’s receiving guaranteed salary to play in Spain, which would explain why he’s passing up a shot at continuing his NBA career. Toronto waived him this past weekend rather than guarantee his NBA minimum salary for the coming season.

Buycks saw action in just 14 games this past season, his first official NBA experience. He averaged 3.1 points and 0.7 assists in 10.4 minutes per contest for Toronto.

Chris Paul Mulling Boycott If Sterling Stays

July 24 at 11:19pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Chris Paul called the notion of Donald Sterling staying on as owner “unacceptable” and told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com that he would seriously consider sitting out the 2014/15 season if Sterling remained at the head of the Clippers franchise.

“That’s something me and [coach Doc Rivers] are both talking about,” said Paul on Thursday, in reference to a potential boycott. “Something has to happen, and something needs to happen soon — sooner rather than later.”

News broke Tuesday that Rivers indicated to interim CEO Dick Parsons that he’d potentially relinquish his role as coach and president of basketball operations if Sterling wasn’t ousted from his the front office. Now, Paul is publicly echoing Rivers’ thoughts and also suggested that a group of other players from the team are on the same wavelength as well.

We’re all going to talk about it,” Paul explained to Goodman. “We’re all definitely going to talk about it. Doc, [Blake Griffin], [DeAndre Jordan]. It’s unacceptable.

Closing arguments for the Sterling trial are set for Monday, at which point the judge will determine whether or not Shelly Sterling’s sale of the team without her husband’s consent was within the realm of legality. Should Donald Sterling keep his position as owner, and if Rivers, Paul, and company follow through on their threat to boycott, it would be an unprecedented move by the group that throws the state of the Clippers’ 2014/15 season seriously into question.

Pacific Notes: Lin, Kings, Sterlings

July 24 at 7:40pm CDT By Cray Allred

The Lakers have finally acquired Jeremy Lin after two failed attempts to land the point guard in recent years, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. At the veteran’s introductory press conference, Los Angeles GM Mitch Kupchak told reporters including McMenamin, “The first thing I said to [Lin] when he sat down was, ‘You know, three times is a charm.’” Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Quincy Acy‘s contract was set to become fully guaranteed tomorrow, but the Kings have been granted an extension to make their decision on the small forward’s fate until August 15, reports Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (on Twitter). The deadline extension, presumably granted by Acy and his management, will give Sacramento more time to explore their options to keep the 23-year-old while avoiding the luxury tax.
  • A Sacramento judge is set to make a final ruling against a citizen-led attempt to block construction of the new Kings arena, reports Dale Kasler and Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee. The judge issued a temporary rejection of the lawsuit today, which is the last remaining legal barrier to the arena, which was initially approved in May.
  • Donald Sterling attorney Max Blecher accused commissioner Adam Silver of having given Shelly Sterling the idea that she should take full control of the family trust to facilitate the sale of the Clippers, as Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com details.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Teams With Hard Caps For 2014/15

July 24 at 2:29pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The NBA’s salary cap is really a misnomer of sorts, since it doesn’t truly cap salaries. Look no further than last year’s Nets for confirmation of that. They doled out nearly $103MM in salaries, incurring more than $90.57MM in luxury taxes and smashing the record for the greatest expenditure on a single roster in NBA history.

The NBA’s salary cap is commonly referred to as a “soft cap,” but there are still ways that teams can impose a “hard cap” upon themselves and set a finite limit to their spending. If a team’s salary exceeds the luxury tax threshold ($76,829,000) by more than $4MM, that team is not permitted to acquire a player via sign-and-trade, or to use the non-taxpayer’s mid-level or biannual exceptions. The only exceptions available to such a team are the taxpayer’s mid-level of $3,278,000, the minimum-salary exception, and whatever form of Bird rights they have on their own free agents. As soon as a team completes a sign-and-trade deal, uses its BAE, or uses more than $3,278,000 of its MLE to sign a player, that club becomes hard-capped at $80,829,000 for the 2014/15 season. In other words, team salary can’t exceed that amount at any point between now and June 30th, 2015.

For some clubs, that hard cap isn’t a major concern. For instance, the Suns still have about $18MM in breathing room below the hard cap, so they have plenty of flexibility to re-sign restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe to a max contract if need be. On the other hand, the Clippers are only about $1MM below the hard cap, so any trades or signings they make for the rest of the season will have to be constructed to ensure their team salary doesn’t surpass that $80.829MM cutoff.

More clubs may trigger hard caps as the offseason wears on, but here are the teams that are now locked into a hard cap for the 2014/15 season, along with an estimation (via Basketball Insiders) of their current team salaries and the reason(s) why the hard cap was created:

Hawks
Hard cap created: Acquired Thabo Sefolosha via sign-and-trade
Estimated team salary: $60,975,564

Rockets
Hard cap created: Acquired Trevor Ariza via sign-and-trade
Estimated team salary: $68,125,942

Wizards
Hard cap created: Acquired Kris Humphries via sign-and-trade; acquired DeJuan Blair via sign-and-trade; signed Paul Pierce via non-taxpayer MLE
Estimated team salary: $76,646,603

Suns
Hard cap created: Acquired Isaiah Thomas via sign-and-trade
Estimated team salary: $51,805,537

Warriors
Hard cap created: Signed Shaun Livingston via non-taxpayer MLE
Estimated team salary: $72,232,245

Pacers
Hard cap created: Signed C.J. Miles and Damjan Rudez via non-taxpayer MLE
Estimated team salary: $74,798,942

Clippers
Hard cap created: Signed Spencer Hawes via non-taxpayer MLE; signed Jordan Farmar via biannual exception
Estimated team salary: $79,679,772

Grizzlies
Hard cap created: Signed Vince Carter via non-taxpayer MLE; signed Beno Udrih via biannual exception
Estimated team salary: $75,529,943

Trail Blazers
Hard cap created: Signed Chris Kaman via non-taxpayer MLE; signed Steve Blake via biannual exception
Estimated team salary: $69,322,824

Kings
Hard cap created: Signed Darren Collison via non-taxpayer MLE
Estimated team salary: $75,852,705

Western Notes: Clips, Jazz, Withey, Buycks, Mavs

July 23 at 5:33pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion bid for the Clippers equals more than 12 times the total revenue projections for the team from 2013/14, but no major pro sports team has ever sold for more than five times of its total revenue, according to Bank of America. Ramona Shelburne and Darren Rovell of ESPN.com have the details, which back up the contention of Clippers CEO Dick Parsons that it would be tough to envision another bidder coming in so high.

  • The Jazz received $1.3MM in cash Tuesday as part of their three-for-one trade with the Cavs, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That’s slightly more than the $1MM that was originally reported.
  • Jeff Withey‘s minimum salary became fully guaranteed for this coming season after the Pelicans declined to waive him before the end of Tuesday, the final day they could do so without owing him any money, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports. Teammate Luke Babbitt also earned a $100K partial guarantee when the Pelicans kept him past Tuesday, which was also the final day his contract had been fully non-guaranteed.
  • Dwight Buycks is drawing the eye of the Clippers and Suns, and multiple teams from overseas are interested in him as well, Sportando’s Enea Trapani reports. The Raptors waived Buycks on Saturday, before his contract would have become fully guaranteed.
  • The Mavs are nearing a deal with Jameer Nelson, but owner Mark Cuban insisted to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that the team isn’t trying to unload Raymond Felton. “We like him and think he will have a great year,” Cuban said. 
  • Cuban also made an appearance on Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket in Dallas this week, during which he explained that the Mavericks strategically used the ultra-logical approach of the Rockets‘ front office to put together an offer for Chandler Parsons that was unlikely to be matched (link via The Dallas Morning News).

Pacific Rumors: Bledsoe, Thomas, Clippers

July 23 at 1:01pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Suns have little interest in sending restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe away in a sign-and-trade, and Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby is confident in the team’s two-point guard look, writes Bob Young of the Arizona Republic. The four-year, $48MM offer the Suns reportedly have out to Bledsoe is for significantly more than what the team and agent Rich Paul spoke about last fall in extension talks, Young adds. There’s more from Young’s piece amid the latest on the Suns and the rest of the Pacific Division:

  • New Suns acquisition Isaiah Thomas told Young that he felt as though the Kings were looking to replace him at every turn. “I felt very disrespected,” Thomas said. “Every year it was somebody new. I felt I did a good enough job to show them I was a starting point guard or a guy who could play a big role with their team. But they thought differently.
  • Differing opinions on the relative values of David Lee and Kevin Love, a reluctance to take on Kevin Martin, and a reticence to give up Harrison Barnes on top of it all have the Warriors holding out in talks with Minnesota, as Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group explains. That’s in addition to Golden State’s decision to keep Klay Thompson‘s name out of the discussion.
  • Attorneys for Donald Sterling made it clear Tuesday that he wants the NBA to vote to terminate his ownership of the Clippers so he can move forward with his antitrust suit against the league, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The judge in the probate trial between Sterling and his wife can rule that Shelly Sterling’s sale of the team to Steve Ballmer would go forward even if Donald Sterling appeals, but such a ruling would be difficult to come by, Shelburne adds (on Twitter).
  • The Kings are among several teams that Dan Fegan, the agent for Omri Casspi, has spoken to, as Casspi tells Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Casspi, whom the Pelicans are likely to waive this month, added that he has interest in returning to Sacramento, where he played his first two NBA seasons.