Magic Johnson has gone back and forth in public statements about whether he wants to buy the Clippers, but many around the NBA believe commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s owners want to sell the team to him, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Johnson and the Guggenheim Partners, who together as a consortium own baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, are willing to pay in excess of $1 billion to buy the Clippers, Wojnarowski writes. Banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling fears that the league is steering the team toward Johnson, and that’s part of the reason why Sterling keeps assailing Johnson in racially charged rants, according to Wojnarowski.
The Yahoo! scribe first noted the interest of Johnson and the Guggenheim Partners last month, even before Silver issued Sterling’s lifetime ban and the league began to formally move toward forcing the sale of the Clippers. Johnson denied any such interest, but Wojnarowski continued to hear that the Hall-of-Famer wanted the team, and Johnson ultimately acknowledged his desire a couple of weeks ago.
Several groups and investors have made their designs on purchasing the Clippers known, but it appears as though Johnson and the Guggenheim Partners have the inside track. Silver issued an apology to Johnson on Monday after Sterling’s latest verbal attack. Still, legal challenges loom not only from Sterling but also from his wife, Shelly, who jointly owns the team as part of a family trust. There’s little chance that the matter will reach resolution anytime soon, so it could be a while before Johnson or any new Clippers owner takes control of the team.