Steve Ballmer

Pacific Notes: LeBron, Irving, O’Neale, Ballmer

Discussing his former teammate Kyrie Irving on his Mind The Game podcast (YouTube clip), Lakers star LeBron James said he has gotten satisfaction out of watching Irving’s success in Dallas, but admitted that he’s disappointed to no longer be playing with the star guard.

“I’m so f—ing happy and so proud to watch him continue his growth,” James said. “I’m so f—ing mad at the same time that I’m not his running mate anymore.”

As Dave McMenamin of ESPN details, Irving requested a trade out of Cleveland in 2017, in large part due to his desire to get out from under James’ shadow and to have his own team, but the mutual appreciation between the two stars seems to have grown since their days together as Cavaliers.

LeBron was known to be pushing for the Lakers to acquire Irving during multiple transaction cycles before the guard was ultimately sent to Dallas at the 2023 trade deadline. However, with Irving thriving in Dallas and under contract for up to two more seasons, it seems unlikely at this point that he and James will reunite prior to LeBron’s retirement.

James added that he doesn’t view the Mavericks as a significant underdog vs. Boston in the NBA Finals because he views Irving as a potential difference-maker.

“To have a guy like Kyrie Irving as the ultimate wild card,” James said. “It’s like having a Draw 4 in your hand every time someone deals you cards in Uno.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Responding to an ESPN report that said the Suns are expected to retain free agent forward Royce O’Neale, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 confirmed on The Burns & Gambo show (podcast link) that a new deal between the two sides is likely, but suggested that Phoenix will probably have to offer a longer-term contract to make sure it gets done. “What they’re going to have to three or four years to keep him. Other teams will probably offer him more money on a shorter-term deal,” Gambadoro said. “… What I’m expecting and what I’ve heard is that the Suns will likely go three to four years on an offer to keep Royce O’Neale.”
  • With the TV series ‘Clipped’ debuting this week, Law Murray of The Athletic takes a look back at how Steve Ballmer reset the Clippers‘ culture after buying the team in 2014 following the Donald Sterling scandal. “It was positive in a way,” former Clippers center DeAndre Jordan said of the Sterling situation. “Because we did end up getting one of the greatest sports owners, in my opinion, in Steve. The things that he’s done have been amazing, and I can’t wait to see what he continues to do, especially starting next year (when the Clippers move into their new arena).”
  • In case you missed it, the Lakers are said to be “zeroing in” on J.J. Redick as their next head coach. Get the full story here.

L.A. Notes: Ham, LeBron, Pelinka, Harden, Ballmer, George

There were signs throughout the season that head coach Darvin Ham was going to take the fall if the Lakers couldn’t make another long playoff run, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Ham was officially fired on Friday after L.A. was dispatched by Denver in five games, but it had been clear that move was coming for a long time, Shelburne adds.

Sources tell Shelburne that LeBron James was resistant to Ham’s idea to limit his minutes early in the season. James’ wishes prevailed and that plan was discarded after a few games. Players also openly questioned Ham’s strategies throughout the season, culminating with Anthony Davis saying after the Game 2 loss to Denver, “We have stretches where we don’t know what we’re doing on both ends of the floor.”

Shelburne notes that the Lakers have cycled through head coaches ever since Phil Jackson‘s retirement in 2011, with none lasting more than three seasons. That list includes Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni, who both went on to win Coach of the Year honors with other teams after leaving L.A. To avoid another short-term hire, Shelburne advises Lakers management to approach this coaching search with a clear idea of its vision for the team.

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Ham was undermined internally, which made it impossible for him to succeed, contends Jim Alexander of The Orange County Register. Alexander speculates that anonymous complaints were leaked by general manager Rob Pelinka to deflect blame from his questionable personnel moves, along with James and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. The danger, according to Alexander, is that the front office may have fired Ham without having an obvious candidate in mind to replace him.
  • James Harden declined to speculate on his future after the Clippers were eliminated Friday night in Dallas, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Harden demanded a trade out of Philadelphia after president of basketball operations Daryl Morey refused to give him the long-term contract he was expecting, but it’s uncertain if the Clippers will be willing to meet his demands this summer. “I don’t even know,” Harden responded when reporters asked about his upcoming free agency. “You’re asking me a question that I don’t have the answer to. I haven’t even thought about it.”
  • Coach Tyronn Lue is working out his own future with the Clippers, but he was gratified that owner Steve Ballmer addressed the team after Friday’s loss, Turner adds. “You have the seventh-, eighth-richest man in the world and he’s a real fan. Like, he’s a real fan. Like, he treats us like family,” Lue said. “He actually genuinely cares about each individual and we’ve seen that time and time again. So, when you have an owner that really respects who you are, not as a basketball player, but a person and who you are, that means a lot. Not just putting you on a basketball court and saying, ‘OK, you work for me.’ Like, he really genuinely cares about each individual. He cares about the wins. He’s fired up. He’s passionate about it. And, so, that’s what I love the most about Mr. Ballmer. He treats everyone as equals.”
  • The Clippers‘ reluctance to guarantee a fourth year has held up extension talks with Paul George, sources tell Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints. George is eligible for up to $221MM over four seasons, but Azarly’s sources say the team’s latest offer falls short of that figure.

Clippers Rebranding For Next Season

The Clippers will have a new look when they move into the Inuit Dome next season, the team announced Monday morning (via Twitter). The franchise unveiled a new logo and uniforms, along with a redesigned court that will help establish a fresh identity after 40 years in Los Angeles.

The rebranding comes after outside consultants were hired to conduct fan surveys, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Team officials considered everything, including a possible name change, but that didn’t poll well, with sources describing the reaction to Lowe as “outright hostility.”

“The focus groups are advisory, not definitive,” owner Steve Ballmer said. “But I still listen to them, and I have heard, partially to my surprise, that there is no interest in a name change. I had thought about [the name] years ago, before I got the team, but we heard similar reactions back then.”

The Clippers will replace their current logo, which has been described as bland, with a large “C” that has a ship inside it, a nod to the clipper ships of San Diego that inspired the team’s name when it moved to that city in 1978. The global version of the logo contains the words “Los Angeles Clippers” surrounding the ship in a circle.

The court display released by the team features the logo in the center with “Inuit Dome” printed in blue on both sides of it. The N in “Angeles” extends through the center court stripe to create a compass effect. The painted area is dark blue, with red semicircles above the foul line, and longitude and latitude coordinates for the new building are listed along the sidelines. Other home court designs will be released later, sources tell Lowe.

The Clippers also unveiled white and blue versions of their new uniforms, which feature the logo on the shorts and a new font for the team name. A red statement edition has “Los Angeles” on the front and “Clips” on the waistband of the shorts. Three nautical flags line the sides of the red jersey.

The team won’t have a black version of its jersey next season, with Gillian Zucker, president of business operations for the Clippers and Intuit Dome, telling Lowe, “We kept hearing from people that black was overdone.” 

The Clippers are also excited about their new secondary logos, one of which is a version of “LA” with a smaller A perched on the bottom line of a larger L.

“It will make for a phenomenal hat,” Zucker said. “In 20 years, people will look back and this will be iconic for the Clippers.”

More Harden Trade Notes: Maxey, Tucker, Westbrook, More

After hearing about the trade that will send his former backcourt partner James Harden to Los Angeles, Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey sent a message to the 10-time All-Star to thank him for everything he’s taught Maxey since they teamed up in 2022, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“I texted him and I told him I love him, told him I appreciate him,” Maxey said. “One thing that he really installed in me is confidence. I’ve always been a confident person, but he made me be even more confident than I already was, and all I can do is appreciate him for that. He took me under his wing, taught me a lot of things as far as just being a professional in this league and how things go. So I appreciate him, and I love him. Same thing with Tuck (P.J. Tucker). Love those guys.”

While the trade with the Clippers will theoretically eliminate a “cloud of uncertainty” that had hung over the Sixers in recent months, Maxey believes the team had already been doing well in not letting the Harden saga become a distraction, per Bontemps.

“I think we’ve done a good job of keeping the main thing, the main thing, and I think that’s what’s gotten us all to a solid start,” Maxey said. “We have some really good guys that are focused, that are determined to go out there and play and, and show what we can do and, and coach that’s keeping our mind in the right place.”

Here are a few more notes on the Harden deal:

  • The first week of the regular season couldn’t have gone much better for Maxey, as he embraced the lead guard role and was named the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Week. Was his hot start the impetus for the Sixers to make their Harden move now? Dan Devine explores that topic in a column for Yahoo Sports.
  • While Tucker obviously isn’t the headliner in this trade, he may be the sort of versatile frontcourt defender that head coach Tyronn Lue has been seeking behind starting center Ivica Zubac, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. As Fischer observes, Patrick Beverley has long been a favorite of the Clippers’ front office and Tucker should bring a similar brand of toughness to the team.
  • What happens next for both the Clippers and Sixers will be crucial in determining whether the deal is a win, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who notes that Los Angeles now has several stars on potential expiring deals while Philadelphia will likely return to the trade market seeking another impact player. Hollinger also wonders if Russell Westbrook will assume a sixth man role for the Clippers rather than share the starting lineup with three ball-dominant players like Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George, and points out that the 76ers are a Furkan Korkmaz salary dump away from sneaking below the luxury tax line.
  • A Monday phone call between Sixers owner Josh Harris and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer helped push the deal over the finish line, according to Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link).
  • Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports takes a look back at Harden’s tenure in Philadelphia, writing that the way it ended should come as no surprise.

Clippers Notes: Leonard, Westbrook, Gordon, Ballmer

The Clippers aren’t playing Kawhi Leonard in back-to-back games, even though their record is terrible when he’s not available. Leonard sat out today’s contest due to injury management on his right knee, and L.A. had a four-game winning streak snapped by Orlando. The Clippers have lost their last seven games without Leonard and are just 3-14 since mid-November when he doesn’t play, tweets Law Murray of The Athletic.

Leonard is expected to return for Sunday’s contest at Portland, but his absence was obvious today, especially on defense, writes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. L.A. gave up 39 points in the fourth quarter while letting a lead slip away, and Russell Westbrook said it’s up to everyone else to step up their game when Leonard is sitting out.

“There’s no excuse for tonight,” he said. “We just didn’t close the game like we were supposed to, make the right plays like we needed to.”

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • Westbrook took the blame for today’s loss even though most of his numbers were pretty good, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The veteran guard finished with 14 points, nine assists and five rebounds in 37 minutes. However, he committed six turnovers and went 0-for-3 from three-point range, dropping him to just 4-of-22 from long distance over the past seven games. “He’s a professional,” Paul George said. “He’s a veteran. Top 75 player. He’s going to get through it. He knows to stay confident, he knows that we trust him and got his back, that he’s going to stay in attack mode. I don’t ever worry about Russ’ shooting. I just know what he brings and his value to the team. And that is bigger than anything. He just does so much other stuff that I don’t care. He plays hard and that’s a guy that I want to roll with.”
  • Eric Gordon feels at home after the Clippers acquired him from Houston at the trade deadline, Carr adds in another Orange County Register story. Gordon, who started his career with L.A., has been a smooth fit since returning. “It definitely means a lot (to be back),” he said. “This was a situation I’ve always wanted to be in and looking forward to. We got a lot of talented guys and I think I kind of fit the mold of how they play and how they do things. It’s great to be back.”
  • Owner Steve Ballmer talked about the progress of the Clippers’ next home, the Intuit Dome, with Jabari Young of Forbes (subscription required).

Pacific Notes: Murray, Warriors, Paul, Clippers

COVID-19 delayed Keegan Murray‘s NBA debut, but the Kings rookie was on the court tonight, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Murray had to sit out Wednesday’s season opener while recovering from the virus, but he was able to practice the past two days without any limitations.

“You can’t tell he had COVID,” De’Aaron Fox said. “Obviously, he’s still a rookie and he’s learning, but I think he’s excited and we’re excited to have him out there for a game that counts.”

Murray, the fourth pick in this year’s draft, raised expectations with a strong performance during Summer League and followed that by averaging 16.0 PPG while shooting 70.6% from the field and 70% from three-point range in two preseason games. He’s looking forward to performing for Sacramento fans after seeing the enthusiasm they brought to opening night.

 “We have one of the best fan bases in the NBA,” Murray said. “So just being able to play in front of them and get a win — that’s my biggest goal — I think it will be really special once I’m able to get back on the floor.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors boast a deep and talented roster that will eventually lead to tough decisions for head coach Steve Kerr, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Kerr used an 11-man rotation in the season opener, with nine players logging at least 15 minutes. “You have 11 guys that probably deserve the opportunity to play,” Stephen Curry said. “There’s going to be different lineups every night, especially early in the year. … We’re going to have to develop that chemistry as we go. You’re going to continue to try and experiment and give guys opportunities to go out and hoop.”
  • Chris Paul‘s early-season scoring decline shouldn’t be a long-term concern for the Suns, according to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. Bourguet notes that Paul has been concentrating on getting his teammates involved in the offense, and he ranks second in the league with 21 assists. Bourguet states that the team’s more pressing issues are a lack of bench production and a wide difference in the number of free throws they’ve shot compared to opponents.
  • Clippers owner Steve Ballmer unveiled his new streaming service tonight, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. ClipperVision is available without a cable subscription and will show 74 of the team’s 82 games. Six live stream options are offered for each game, and one includes former NBA players providing guest commentary.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Sarver, Lakers, Davis, J. Green, Ballmer

After handing Robert Sarver a one-year suspension and a $10MM fine following the investigation into the Suns owner’s workplace misconduct, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told some concerned players that he considered having the league’s Board of Governors vote on Sarver’s fate, but had some legal concerns about the process, report Baxter Holmes and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Insider link). Instead, Silver repeatedly spoke directly to Sarver in an effort to encourage him to sell the franchise.

As Holmes and Shelburne outline, Sarver was upset by his punishment and questioned why it was more severe than the one Mark Cuban received following an investigation into the Mavericks’ front office in 2018. Silver explained that the differences stemmed from the fact that Cuban wasn’t accused of misconduct himself.

While persistent nudging from Silver may not have been enough on its own to convince Sarver to sell, the Suns were facing the prospect of losing several key sponsors if he remained on as the team’s owner. Sources tell Holmes and Shelburne that nearly 30 sponsors are up for renewal after the coming season, including PayPal, which issued a statement calling for Sarver’s removal. There were indications that many companies would follow PayPal’s lead and put out similar statements.

“The walls were closing in on (Sarver),” a source close to the process told ESPN. “A group of sponsors were all moving towards this common position.”

After Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reported last week that a “high-end estimate” for the sale price of the Suns could be $3 billion or more, ESPN’s duo is hearing the same thing. Multiple sources who spoke to Holmes and Shelburne, noting that the NBA has rebounded well from the impact of COVID-19 and has a new TV deal around the corner, predicted that the franchise could sell for more than $3 billion.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • As he preaches defensive effort and intensity to his new team, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said on Tuesday that he likes the fact that multiple starting lineup spots are for grabs in training camp, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are locked in as starters and Russell Westbrook will “absolutely” join them if he shows the effort Ham is looking for on defense, but that would still leave two spots open. “I think it adds a little spice to camp, and LeBron and AD, they are who they are, as well as Russ, those guys are going to go at them,” Ham said. “That’s only going to make everybody better. It’s a controlled competitive environment.”
  • Davis told reporters on Wednesday that he was affected last season by a wrist injury that he suffered in January, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The Lakers‘ big man added that it’s not an excuse for his poor three-point shooting (18.6%), but that it affected the follow-through on his shot.
  • According to head coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors viewed JaMychal Green as a “critical” offseason addition because he adds some much-needed veteran experience to a young bench. Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area has the story.
  • Steve Ballmer of the Clippers remains the richest owner in sports, according to a report from Forbes, which estimates Ballmer’s net worth at $83 billion. Robert Pera of the Grizzlies ($17.6 billion) and Dan Gilbert of the Cavaliers ($17.3 billion) are the other NBA owners who rank in Forbes’ top 10.

Pacific Notes: Curry, Ballmer, George, Kings

Stephen Curry is under contract through the 2025/26 season and he hasn’t considered finishing his career with anyone other than the Warriors. In an interview during this afternoon’s Oakland A’s baseball game (video link), Curry talked about his love for the Bay Area and his plans for the future.

“I’ve been out here … I just finished my 13th year,” Curry said, “and to be able to say I’ve played for one team my entire career, and also to say between the 10 years in Oakland and these last three years in San Francisco, I can honestly say how special this place is. Also, there’s a huge need here that we can really kind of tackle some of those challenges, and do it in a meaningful way. Honestly, I don’t want to leave ever. I want this to be my one and only home, and even thinking about what happens after basketball is done.”

With four championship rings and two MVP trophies, Curry is among the most popular and successful athletes in the history of the Bay Area. He’ll be 38 when his current deal expires and hasn’t given any indication about whether he plans to continue playing after that.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • In a tour of the Inuit Dome construction site, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer tells Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN that he wants to have the premier team in Los Angeles (Twitter link). “You said this is a Laker town. No, Laker-Clipper,” Ballmer said to Youngmisuk. “And someday I want to be able to say Clipper-Laker.” Of the new arena, Ballmer said, “I think it’s another statement that says, ‘Hey look, we’re nobody’s little brother. We’re a real team.’”
  • Clippers forward Paul George will be the latest NBA star to make an appearance at the Drew League, tweets Law Murray of The Athletic. The pro-am league in Los Angeles has attracted numerous NBA players this summer, including LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan, Trae Young and John Collins. This will be George’s first Drew League appearance since 2014.
  • James Ham of Kings Beat offers four suggestions on how the Kings can improve their defense for the upcoming season.

Steve Ballmer Has Big Plans For Clippers’ New Arena

Optimism was the theme that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer emphasized as he talked about the team’s new arena project with Jabari Young of CNBC. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday for the $1.8 billion facility, which will be located in Inglewood and called the Intuit Dome. It will become the new home for the franchise in three years.

The Clippers are looking forward to establishing their own identity after years of sharing the Staples Center with the Lakers and the NHL’s Kings. Ballmer notes that it took a lot of faith to embark on the project, which the franchise started without any land to build on. The team had to pay $66.2MM to Inglewood for the site where the facility will be located and $400MM to purchase the nearby Forum from the Madison Square Garden Company.

“This stadium is about being optimistic about our team,” Ballmer said. “It’s about being optimistic about our fans. Get in the building, pump up, make energy. Your energy can feed our team to greater success.”

The 18,000-seat arena will include a lot of high-tech features as Ballmer hopes to create a unique experience for paying customers. It will have a halo-shaped video board with 44,000 square feet of LED lights, along with technology that will enable fans to purchase concessions from their seats without the need for cash or credit cards. The Clippers will also have four cabanas at courtside that Ballmer compares to end-zone suites in the NFL.

The arena won’t host hockey games, so it will be built with “basketball geometry” that’s tailored for the best NBA viewing experience. The team will move its business operations and its practice facility to the Intuit Dome, and Ballmer estimates that the arena will create $260MM in economic activity for Inglewood and will result in more than 7,000 new full-time and part-time jobs.

“It’s a big market,” Ballmer said. “There’s plenty of fans that can be fans of the Clippers and Lakers. But we want to tell you who we are. I think there are many folks in L.A. who identify with this notion of being the underdog, the person who strides. It’s almost two L.A.s. It’s not all showtime and movie business. Our fans are grinders.”

As a former CEO of Microsoft, Ballmer is still relatively new to the sports world, buying the Clippers in 2014 after former owner Donald Sterling was banned from the league. Along with having seasons affected by injuries, Ballmer said the most challenging thing about adapting to the sports environment is “judgment and understanding of where and how I should be involved on the basketball side.” Still, he has been able to take some of the lessons he learned from the business world and apply them to the NBA.

“You don’t blink,” he said. “We’re not blinking on the Clippers. We’re going to consistently invest and making our team as good as it can be. And in this new building, we’re going to invest.”

Clippers’ Ballmer Unsure Whether Kawhi Will Play In 2021/22

After undergoing surgery in July to repair a partial tear of his right ACL, Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has no set timetable for his return to the court. Addressing Leonard’s health in a conversation with Mark Medina of USA Today, team owner Steve Ballmer said it’s “possible” the star forward will be back on the court before the end of the 2021/22 season, but he isn’t willing to make any guarantees.

“Nobody knows at this stage,” Ballmer said. “Nobody knows. It’s possible. For sure, it’s possible. But it will depend on what the doctors say and what Kawhi says.”

When a player suffers an ACL tear during the fall or winter, it typically ends his season, but a player’s recovery timeline is less clear when the injury occurs at or near the end of the prior season. For now, it seems safe to assume that Leonard will at least be sidelined for most of the 2021/22 campaign. However, Ballmer still believes the Clippers are a “very good team,” telling Medina that he expects to be in the hunt for a championship again if Kawhi can make it back in the spring.

“We’re coming in this year looking for a title,” Ballmer said. “Obviously not having arguably one of our two best players, that hurts. We’ll see when we get Kawhi back. But you think through a three-year stretch, we got all of these guys under contract for this year and next year. I think it gives us a lot of opportunity to compete.”

Ballmer, who made the media rounds in advance of breaking ground on the Clippers’ new Inglewood arena, conveyed a similar sentiment to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

“Every year I want to win,” Ballmer said. “Some people will talk about, ‘We’re taking a step back’ or ‘We got an injured year.’ No. Our fans can count on the fact that we are going to try to win as many ballgames as we can every year. Now, we took a little setback. We got to get Kawhi healthy. And when he’s back, we’re back at full strength.”

In conversations with Medina, Shelburne, and other reporters, Ballmer stressed that moving out of the Staples Center and into the Intuit Dome in 2024 represents the Clippers’ desire to create their own “identity” outside of the Lakers’ shadow.

The Clippers’ have long had a reputation as the Lakers’ overlooked little brother, but Ballmer told Medina he thinks his team has become a “great free agent destination” in its own right. The next steps for the Clippers, Ballmer says, are winning a championship and getting their own building.

“There’s 30 teams in the league. There’s 29 others. And we got one that happens to be based in L.A.,” Ballmer told Shelburne. “And we got our fans. We use our expression, ‘L.A. Our Way.’ And we’re building our own presence, identity. And if the other guys (the Lakers) feel a little threatened — the other guys’ fans, I mean; the players are actually a little different deal — but if they feel a little threatened, that’s OK. It means we’re doing good.”