Before delving into this, a moment on the stupidity of this. Stiviano is now allegedly under investigation for extorting Sterling. Good thing the NBA wrapped up their investigation in 48 hours and threw a ban at Sterling, which ESPN applauded at every opportunity. No one questioned it on ESPN. I hope Sterling fights them and for one added reason. For thirty years the NBA and the sports media have openly dumped on his ownership. Yes, Sterling has mismanaged it. Sterling also allowed Elgin Baylor to be the most inept general manager in professional sports years before other teams had black executives. Some of the Clippers woes were bad luck like Danny Manning becoming healthy after he left the team and wunderkind draft pick Shaun Livingston, who some compared to Magic Johnson for a point guard, blew out both knees before age 24. Sterling finally has some luck go his way, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin staying healthy, and finally has a sexy franchise, and the league goes right after him to take it away. I hope he torches the league.
Going back to my NBA franchise sales bubble top post, buried in Simmons' Grantland article, he specifically mentions that it would take $1.7 billion for Sterling to string you along if you wanted to buy the Clippers from him. That means $1.7 billion is the starting point. Simmons is a shill for the NBA, and on the NBA's broadcast pre/post-game show. The NBA has a couple months to lean on Sterling, and if he relents, we will know by June that he is selling. Oprah has expressed interest in buying the team (obviously with a team of owners), Magic fronts for Michael Milken, and who knows who else would come out of the woodwork. My money would be on Eli Broad coming out of nowhere to be a key, clean piece to another LA ownership group, which the league could support and stay clear of allegations Magic manipulated this situation. A smart ownership group would do what the Miami Dolphins did where there is the majority owner, but he offered celebrities in Miami a piece of the Dolphins to call themselves owners and add cache to the game experience (same as Jay-Z did for seven years with the Nets). It would be an LA franchise, so an ownership group could collect $1 million per celebrity and create the Lakers' "celebs at the game" effect within the ownership group. They are not just fans, they part of the franchise!
The Magic-Milken group overpaid for the Dodgers so if they have serious bidding competition, competitive juices will most likely make them go to extremes. There is a wild card. Say June arrives and Sterling agrees to sell to the highest bidder. Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Lebron James all become free agents this summer (due to age, Wade may not opt out of his deal). Might need a sign and trade to make it work. What happens to the bidding process when one of those three, especially Lebron and Carmelo, say, "I never would've considered the Clips, but with Sterling gone, I may sign there". An LA franchise now is not just an LA franchise but an LA franchise that may add one of those guys. If Bill Simmons can back of the envelop estimate that Lebron is worth half a billion to a franchise, then if $1.7 billion was what it would take to get Sterling interested, then $2.2 billion is the possible upside. Rename the franchise (LA Stars), which will remove the Clippers-Sterling stink and force people to buy new merchandise. Lots of immediate money making potential.
This scenario assumes Sterling is not fighting this to his death bed. Criticize David Stern all you want, but there is no way he would have allowed this to mushroom the way it did. Stern would have called his sources with the LA Times and told them to nip it, kind of like how they spiked former gambling referee Tim "the game is rigged" Donaghy's book deal. Stern would have called Magic and said, "Look, Magic, stop woofing or your HIV will act up, do not elevate this by calling for Sterling's franchise publicly". Stern would have said the league would look into it, but in the meantime enjoy the amazing playoffs. Stern would have kept the focus on the game, and let the outrage cycle (already lower due to his intervention) play out. This would have blown over, and most likely, Sterling would have announced he was stepping down from operations and handed it off to one of his two surviving adult children. Reality is different. What we are left with is a greedy set of owners eyeing higher franchise values, a shady