Where Do the Clippers Go From Here?
What a whirlwind five days it has been for the Los Angeles Clippers organization and players. Since tapes of Donald Sterling’s racist rants to then-mistress/side piece/gold digger V. Stiviano were released by TMZ, the entire franchise has been consumed by controversy.
Players have been called on to boycott games in protest, fans have been asked to stop attending games altogether, and owners have been asked to force Sterling to sell the team. Finally, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held a press conference today announcing stiff penalties for Stern, including the following:
- Lifetime ban from all NBA games and practices
- Lifetime ban from entering any Clipper office or facility
- Participating in any business or personnel decisions for the Clippers
- $2.5 million fine, the maximum Sterling could be fined by the league
- Aggressively pushing owners to vote on and institute a forced sale of the franchise
Silver laid the proverbial smack down on Sterling. He accomplished everything fans, players and owners everywhere wanted when he completely rid the league of Sterling and his putrid views and beliefs.
But where do the Clippers go from here? Silver has said that he will push for the franchise to be sold, and there are already reports of potential buyers prepared to make a push for the team.
Several groups with desire to purchase Clippers are already stepping forward, with a bidding war expected to exceed $1 billion for Clippers.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 29, 2014
Let’s take a look at a few potential outcomes of Silver’s decision, assuming owners agree to force Sterling to sell and ignoring the likely lawsuit coming from the former Clipper owner.
Magic Johnson and Mark Walter (Dodger Owners) purchase the Clippers.
Here is what many people think will be the most likely outcome of all of this. It’s no secret that Magic wants to expand his ownership and power in the Southern California sports scene. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Magic and the Guggenheim Partners already attempted to make a move for the Lakers, so purchasing the Clippers would not be a surprise.
Make no mistake: Magic’s Dodgers group is angling for a Southern California sports empire. Magic Johnson and Guggenheim had been aggressive in pursuing a purchase of the Los Angeles Lakers – only to have the Buss family make clear to them the franchise isn’t for sale, sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Clippers would finally have an owner who isn’t only worried about his finances. Magic and Co. would take advantage of the fact that they are a franchise in a huge market in Los Angeles, and could turn the Clippers into a Lakers-type franchise willing to spend and spend some more to contend for a title. With stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul already in the fold, the climb to dynasty for the squad could be a rather short one. This is likely the best case scenario for Clipper fans.
Investor Group purchases the Clippers and keeps them in Los Angeles.
While Magic is likely the front-runner, there will be no shortage of potential buyers for the Clippers. One thing is clear, the NBA and its Board of Governors must vote on whoever ends up being the group that purchases the Clippers.
Regardless of who ends up the new owners of the franchise, the Clippers will no longer be a butt of all sports jokes, instead they will likely become an NBA powerhouse in a huge market as mentioned above. Suddenly, there is another team competing with the Lakers for free agents and stars to come to LA, and the course of both franchises can be altered significantly.
Chris Hansen and his investor purchase the Clippers, and take the franchise to Seattle.
While this may seem like the most farfetched of possibilities, you really can’t count out Hansen and his deep pockets. After failing to move the Kings to Seattle, even after making a significantly higher offer than the eventual winning bidders, Hansen has openly stated that Seattle will get an NBA team, calling it inevitable.
And honestly, would this really be that big of a surprise? This is exactly the type of scenario that needs to play out for Hansen to get a team in Seattle. The Clippers would be leaving a market that already has another team, so a city would not be losing its franchise completely. Despite their growing fanbase, the Clippers remain the second team in a Laker town, moving to Seattle would make the team the undisputed leader of Northwestern American sports. And jilted Sonics fans would finally have a team to cheer for.
Of course, the downside here is that Clipper fans would be losing their team, so the Lakers still being around really would mean nothing to them. At the end of the day, for one city to gain another has to suffer, and in this scenario the city of Los Angeles suffers a lot less than Milwaukee or Sacramento would from losing their teams.
Regardless of which direction the Clippers and the NBA go with this situation, it will definitely have a huge affect on the state of the NBA. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and how quickly owners and the league move to have Sterling sell the team. The sooner Sterling is completely washed from the hands of the franchise, the better for the entire league and its fans.