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Report: Steve Ballmer to buy Clippers for $2 billion

By Eye on Basketball staff

Steve Ballmer is reportedly soon to be the new owner of the Clippers.
Steve Ballmer is reportedly soon to be the new owner of the Clippers. (USATSI)

More: Sterling banned for life | Latest updates | NBA news

UPDATE: USA Today tells us the league must still approve the sale of the Clippers but Sterling does not have to sign off on the deal.

The person, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said NBA owners still must approve the sale but Donald Sterling – who last week gave his wife Shelly written authority to sell the team – does not have to sign off on the deal.

Donald Sterling's attorney has maintained that no sale can occur without his approval. Sterling and his wife each own 50 percent shares of the team.

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Steve Ballmer has won the Shelly Sterling-run bidding war for the Los Angeles Clippers, agreeing to buy the team for a record $2 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Ballmer, who was chief executive of Microsoft for 14 years, was chosen over competitors that included Los Angeles-based investors Tony Ressler and Steve Karsh and a group that included David Geffen and executives from the Guggenheim Group, the Chicago-based owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations said the Geffen group bid $1.6 billion and Ressler at $1.2 billion.

The sale price is almost four times the highest previous NBA franchise sale price -- the $550 million paid earlier this month for the Milwaukee Bucks. It is second only to the Dodgers 2012 sale for $2.1 billion as the highest price for any sports team in North America.

For the sale to the ex-Microsoft CEO to be official, it would need to be approved by Donald Sterling, the controlling owner of the Clippers who has been banned by the NBA for life. It would also need to be approved by the other owners.

Donald Sterling sent a letter to the NBA authorizing Shelly to sell the team, but recently his lawyer said that he had "disavowed" that agreement, per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. The NBA has a hearing scheduled on June 3 where the 29 other owners would vote on whether or not to terminate the Clippers' current ownership, but Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann reported that the hearing could be postponed if a satisfactory agreement to sell the team was brought to the league.

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