Shelly Sterling met with billionaire Steve Ballmer on Sunday, as reported by TMZ and confirmed by ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. Sterling wants to sell the Los Angeles Clippers "on her terms," according to Shelburne.
While Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, tried to keep the Sonics in Seattle, Sterling reportedly wouldn't sell the team to anyone who wanted to move it from Los Angeles. Most would assume Ballmer would only buy a team to relocate it to Seattle, but he told the Wall Street Journal recently that he wouldn't try to do so with the Clippers.
WSJ: You've tried a couple times to buy an NBA franchise to return a basketball team to Seattle. Are you interested in the Los Angeles Clippers, if the team goes up for sale?
Ballmer: I have nothing definitive to say. Am I right on top of what's going on there? Absolutely I am. I love basketball, and I'd love to participate at some point in the NBA. If the opportunity is outside of Seattle, so be it. I will learn about any team that comes up for sale at this point.
WSJ: So you wouldn't move the Clippers to Seattle?
Ballmer: If I get interested in the Clippers, it would be for Los Angeles. I don't work anymore, so I have more geographic flexibility than I did a year, year-and-a half ago. Moving them anywhere else would be value destructive.
The NBA reportedly has no plans to approve Sterling as a controlling owner and allow her to negotiate a sale, but that could change if she finds a deal that works for everyone, according to Shelburne. There is no indication that this meeting was coordinated by the NBA.
The league has formally charged Clippers owner Donald Sterling with violating its constitution, and commissioner Adam Silver has said he is doing everything in his power to terminate his ownership. There will be a hearing on June 3 in New York City involving the other 29 owners.