Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft chief executive worth close to $20 billion, will buy the Clippers for a reported figure worth close to $2 billion according to a report in the Los Angeles Times Thursday evening. Ballmer beat out bids from headed by David Geffen and Tony Ressler which checked in at $1.6 billion and $1.2 billion.
According to Forbes the average NBA franchise is worth around $634 million. The highest valued team is the Knicks at $1.4 billion. The Lakers are second at around $1.3 billion. The sum Ballmer has reportedly agreed to pay is well more than the $550 million the Bucks sold for earlier this month.
It sounds like it’s not completely a done-deal, however. From the Times report:
The prospective sale by Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling comes five days ahead of an NBA hearing to oust her family from ownership following a controversy in which Donald Sterling insulted African-Americans in a secret audio recording.
The tentative deal still must receive the blessing of her husband, Donald Sterling, who has waxed and waned on the question of whether he would allow his wife to sell the team he has controlled for more than three decades.
The deal also needs the eventual approval of 29 other NBA owners, but is expected to clear that hurdle as long as Ballmer reaffirms his pledge to keep the team in Los Angeles and not move it to Seattle, where he lives.
If this report is accurate the NBA looks like it will have avoided a long and lengthy legal drama with the litigious Sterlings. This week reports emerged Donald Sterling was willing to fight, but it would seem he had two billion reasons not to go down that road.
UPDATE: Or not …