10:58am: A source close to Johnson says he has had no conversations about buying the Clippers, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Shelburne adds in a second tweet that the Clippers aren’t for sale, pointing out the difficulty the NBA faces in forcing Sterling to give up the team.
8:21am: Owners across the NBA want Donald Sterling out, and the consortium of Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Partners is eager to purchase Sterling’s Clippers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The sale price could be in excess of $1 billion, according to Wojnarowski. One member of the NBA’s Board of Governors tells Wojnarowski that a fine and a suspension for Sterling would be “meaningless” and would be interpreted as a failure of the league to accept responsibility for the problems set off by Sterling’s alleged racist comments.
The Guggenheim Partners, a financial services firm, and Johnson are the owners of baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, and they recently bought the WNBA’s financially troubled Los Angeles Sparks. They saw purchase of the Sparks as a strategic move that would draw themselves closer to the NBA, according to Wojnarowski. They’ve wanted to purchase the Lakers, and, as Wojnarowski reports, they recently make an aggressive push to do so before the Buss family made it clear that they’re not selling.
NBA owners are pushing commissioner Adam Silver to find a way to force Sterling out of the league, cognizant of the negative perception that will persist if they don’t, Wojnarowski writes. The sale of the team to Johnson, the target of one of the racist barbs Sterling is alleged to have made, would help the league repair its image problem. It would also smooth relations with the players union, which is seeking the maximum punishment for Sterling, as fellow Yahoo! scribe Marc J. Spears writes.