The NBA's Board of Governors will vote to approve Steve Ballmer as the Los Angeles Clippers' owner after the league canceled Tuesday's hearing to terminate the Sterling family's ownership of the team – a move that will likely end Donald Sterling's 33-year reign atop the franchise.
The NBA released a statement Friday evening saying it has resolved its dispute with Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling's wife. As part of the agreement, the league said Shelly Sterling and the family trust won't sue the NBA and agreed "to indemnify the NBA against lawsuits from others, including from Donald Sterling."
The NBA's announcement came shortly after Donald Sterling filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA. The indemnification agreement means Shelly Sterling will protect the league from any financial losses it could suffer in a lawsuit by her husband.
Asked if Donald Sterling has any remaining legal avenue to prevent Ballmer from taking ownership, one source involved in the sales process said, "No. He is totally boxed in."
Shelly Sterling reached agreement late Thursday to sell the franchise for $2 billion to Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO. Donald Sterling is "looking … separately" at possible legal action to stop the team's sale to Ballmer, Donald Sterling's attorney, Max Blecher, told Yahoo Sports Friday afternoon before the NBA's announcement.
The purpose of the $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA, Blecher said before the NBA's announcement, is to seek damages for Sterling's lifetime ban and termination of ownership. The lawsuit alleges Donald Sterling's constitutional rights were violated from using information from an "illegal" recording. The NBA called the lawsuit baseless.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling from the league for life, fined him $2.5 million and is seeking termination of Sterling's ownership of the Clippers after TMZ published an audio recording of Sterling telling his girlfriend he didn't want her bringing African-Americans to Clippers games. The hearing for the league's other 29 franchise owners to vote on Sterling's ouster had been scheduled for Tuesday.
Shelly Sterling's attorneys produced a document signed by Donald Sterling on May 22 in which he agreed to allow Shelly to negotiate the sale of the franchise. Working to get a deal done ahead of the hearing, Shelly Sterling selected Ballmer's $2 billion bid over reported bids of $1.6 billion by David Geffen and members of the Guggenheim Group, which own the Los Angeles Dodgers; and $1.2 billion by a group that included former NBA player Grant Hill and Los Angeles investors Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh.
Blecher and Donald Sterling's other attorneys said he since changed his mind and did not want to sell the team.
Shelly Sterling and Ballmer signed the agreement of sale late Thursday. The Sterlings co-own the Clippers through a family trust, and Blecher disputed reports Friday that alleged Donald Sterling is "mentally incapacitated" and unable to make decisions on whether to sell the franchise.
Sterling purchased the Clippers for $12.5 million in 1981 and moved them from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1984.