NBA Willing To Postpone Sterling Hearing

3:20pm: Ballmer is the early favorite in the bidding process, Shelburne tweets.

2:39pm: The NBA will postpone its Tuesday hearing on Donald Sterling’s fate as owner of the Clippers if the league gets a “favorable impression” of the bidding group that emerges as Shelly Sterling’s choice, reports Michael McCann of The league would keep the hearing on hold while it vetted the prospective owners, and, if it approves them, there’d presumably be no need for the hearing, since Sterling and wife Shelly Sterling would no longer own the team. The league’s preferred outcome is for the Sterlings to voluntarily sell the team, as it would like to avoid having to forcibly strip ownership, according to McCann.

The NBA is intent on resolving the Clippers ownership situation by the beginning of next season, McCann writes. The vetting process usually takes at least a month, though the NBA has already screened some of the candidates to buy the team, as TNT’s David Aldridge noted Wednesday. One such bidder is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, though there are conflicting reports about whether he’s submitted a bid to Shelly Sterling, who began working with potential buyers last week after Donald Sterling gave her his blessing to do so. He’s apparently changed his mind and will only sell the team if the NBA withdraws its allegations against him, with perhaps further conditions attached to his would-be cooperation.

The NBA was to vote on taking the team away from the Sterlings at the end of Tuesday’s Board of Governors meeting. Donald Sterling is still pondering a lawsuit against the NBA, which banned him for life and fined him $2.5MM. Shelly Sterling is willing to sell 100% of the team, which the league would demand if it were to accept any deal she strikes, though she’s arranging for a non-ownership role with the team as part of negotiations with the bidders. It’s unclear if the NBA would go along with that.

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