SBD/April 30, 2014/Franchises

No Shortage Of Potential Bidders For Clippers, As Geffen, Mayweather State Interest

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Geffen is interested in buying the Clippers if NBA owners force a sale of the team
Reps for music and film mogul David Geffen said that he is "interested in buying the Clippers if NBA Commissioner Adam Silver succeeds in persuading other NBA owners to force a sale of the team," according to Jim Peltz of the L.A. TIMES. Another billionaire, real estate developer Rick Caruso, on Monday said that he also "would be interested in leading or joining a new ownership group for the Clippers" (LATIMES.com, 4/29). Peltz notes other potential bidders "are lining up," including Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., Lakers investor Patrick Soon-Shiong and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison (L.A. TIMES, 4/30). Mayweather yesterday said that he and "some other investors would be seriously interested in buying" the team. He said, "Do we want to buy the Clippers? Yes we do. We're very, very interested in buying the Clippers" (USA TODAY, 4/30). Mayweather added, "It's not just talk. I want to do it" (LATIMES.com, 4/29). In California, Scott Reid notes a list of potential buyers also would "likely include" hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who "wants to relocate an NBA franchise to Seattle." But Sterling in January '13 reached an agreement with AEG for "a 10-year extension of the team's lease at Staples Center." Meanwhile, whether Ducks Owner Henry Samueli and the city of Anaheim "would be interested in pursuing the Clippers is unclear" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 4/30). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman notes Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle is another possible buyer. Sources said that the Clippers "could fetch roughly" $700M, possibly more (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/30). In L.A., Wharton, Pfeifer & Hsu note Clippers Owner Donald Sterling "might be forced to sell his franchise at an opportune moment, shortly before the NBA renegotiates its lucrative national television contract." An "auction-like frenzy could drive the price" toward $1B. But sports reporter Jim Gray appeared on Fox News yesterday and said that Sterling "told him he would not sell" (L.A. TIMES, 4/30).

SMALL CHANGES IN SHORT TERM: In L.A., Broderick Turner notes Clippers President Andy Roeser will "continue to run the day-to-day business operations" of the team following Sterling's lifetime ban from the NBA. Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who also is Senior VP/Basketball Operations, will "continue to run the basketball side" (L.A. TIMES, 4/30). In N.Y., Billy Witz notes after Silver's announcement, the Clippers released a statement declaring, "We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins." Roeser said of the statement, "Doc and I approved that." Witz notes an "example of how the Clippers operate came Monday, when they had meetings to address Sterling’s comments and answer questions about the league’s investigation." Rivers "directed a meeting at the team’s facility in Playa Vista, Calif.," while Roeser and Senior VP/Marketing & Sales Carl Lahr and VP/Marketing & Broadcasting Christian Howard "met in the team’s business offices at Staples Center." Sterling’s absence for now will "have little effect" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/30). In L.A., Bresnahan, Bolch & Rainey note Sterling's own management team yesterday "distanced itself from the owner," posting a "WE ARE ONE" message on the team's website. Clippers VP/Communications Seth Burton said, "As an organization, we wanted to make a stand, apart from Sterling's comments. As players, coaches and an organization, we don't agree with those comments." Silver yesterday "informed Clippers representatives shortly before he went on national television to announce Sterling's fate" (L.A. TIMES, 4/30). 

LONG-TERM FUTURE UNCERTAIN: In Newark, Craig Wolff notes it is "possible that at least in the short term, the Clippers will fall under the stewardship of Sterling’s estranged wife, Rochelle." The couple is separated. Sources said that the NBA's investigation "began in haste on Saturday and wrapped up Monday night." That was after an attorney for the league and second lawyer hired by the league, David Anders, met with V. Stiviano, Sterling's girlfriend whose voice appears on the audiotape in which Sterling makes his racist comments, and her attorney (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/30). Meanwhile, Rivers said that he "didn't believe the sale or the transfer of the franchise would include" Rochelle Sterling, who attended last night's Warriors-Clippers Game 5. He added, "I don't know. It doesn't sound like it to be honest. And I think she knows that but she still wanted to be here" (ESPNLA.com, 4/30).
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