Gillian Zucker

Ballmer Finalizes Purchase Of Inglewood’s Forum

The Clippers issued a press release today announcing that CAPSS LLC – a recently-formed company backed by team owner Steve Ballmer – has completed its purchase of The Forum in Inglewood, California. The venue was previously owned by the Madison Square Garden Company.

The sale agreement was initially reported in March, when the two sides reached a deal for Ballmer’s group to buy The Forum for $400MM in cash. MSG Co. – controlled by Knicks owner James Dolan – had previously been engaged in a legal battle with Ballmer and the Clippers, who are trying to build a new arena in Inglewood.

The sale of The Forum will help end that litigation, paving the way for the Clippers to move forward on their new building. The Forum, meanwhile, will continue to operate as a live entertainment venue. The Forum’s existing leadership team of Geni Lincoln and Mike Fallon will now report to Gillian Zucker, the Clippers’ president of business operations, according to today’s announcement.

“The talented team at The Forum has created a world-class live entertainment venue, and we are committed to building upon that reputation,” Zucker said in a statement. “Having The Forum just a short distance from the L.A. Clippers’ new arena will give us the opportunity to provide the City of Inglewood with a number of benefits, including a collaborative approach to managing traffic and community activities.”

The Clippers are locked into their Staples Center lease through 2024, but Ballmer has long prioritized the idea of the team moving into a building of its own. The franchise will now be able to move forward on plans to build a state-of-the-art, 18,000-seat arena in Inglewood.

Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reported in March that the Clippers’ proposal was undergoing an environmental review by Inglewood, with public hearings to approve the project expected to be held in the summer. It’s not clear whether the coronavirus pandemic has changed that timeline at all.

Clippers Frustrated Over Gillian Zucker’s Authority?

FRIDAY, 12:48pm: Rivers denies the content of the TMZ story, tweets Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.

TUESDAY, 8:33am: Several players and key figures within the Clippers organization feel that president of business operations Gillian Zucker is overstepping her bounds and usurping the authority of coach/president of basketball operations Doc Rivers, reports TMZ Sports. One player decided against re-signing with the Clippers because of the confusion over whether Rivers or Zucker has more power, TMZ adds. Zucker became involved in player development and decisions involving playing time, but it’s “painfully obvious” that she doesn’t understand NBA culture, having previously worked in auto racing, players said to TMZ.

Zucker denied knowledge of any such issues to TMZ, saying that the lines are “very clear” between the team’s business department, which owner Steve Ballmer hired her to oversee, and the basketball side. People within the organization who say the issues exist profess that they like Ballmer but are anxious for him to put a check on Zucker’s authority before the situation gets worse, according to TMZ.

Zucker was the impetus for the departure of more than 10 employees within the Clippers who were either fired or quit, HBO’s Bill Simmons tweets. Zucker’s administration is also having trouble with the league, team sponsors, and the team’s TV deal, Simmons adds (Twitter link). The Clippers appear to be $40MM apart on annual local TV rights fee proposals with Fox Sports, as Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported this week, and are considering a streaming service, as Claire Atkinson of the New York Post reported last month.

Glen Davis, Dahntay Jones, Hedo Turkoglu and Ekpe Udoh are the Clippers who became free agents July 1st and who haven’t re-signed with the team. The Clippers also waived Lester Hudson and Jordan Hamilton, neither of whom has re-signed. Ostensibly, the player who chose not to return to the Clippers because of Zucker is one of those six.