Sterling prediction thread. Deadline 2pm Tues 4/29

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Cellar-Door

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Suspended indefinitely and a fine.
 
Not much else they can do, can't make him sell if he doesn't want to (which he doesn't.)
 

NWsoxophile

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As for tomorrow I'd guess he'll be suspended indefinitely. I think the league and the union will exert every possible pressure on him over the summer to sell. It will be a disaster for the league if he still owns the Clips come the start of the 2014-15 season. 
 

Cellar-Door

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NWsoxophile said:
As for tomorrow I'd guess he'll be suspended indefinitely. I think the league and the union will exert every possible pressure on him over the summer to sell. It will be a disaster for the league if he still owns the Clips come the start of the 2014-15 season. 
Get ready for disaster, stubborn old dude isn't gonna sell out of spite and the NBA can't force him to (also who is willing and able to pay the cost. The Bucks who have a terrible stadium and deal just fetched $550M. Market value for the Clips with their locked in 10 year lease and a huge market is being estimated at upwards of $1B), everyone who has knowledge of the NBA ownership agreements says he'd win any legal challenge pretty easily.
 

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Cellar-Door said:
Get ready for disaster, stubborn old dude isn't gonna sell out of spite and the NBA can't force him to (also who is willing and able to pay the cost. The Bucks who have a terrible stadium and deal just fetched $550M. Market value for the Clips with their locked in 10 year lease and a huge market is being estimated at upwards of $1B), everyone who has knowledge of the NBA ownership agreements says he'd win any legal challenge pretty easily.
 
Lester Munson thinks that a 3/4 vote of the other owners could legally force him out, actually:
 
http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/10852199/challenge-donald-sterling
 

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Indefinite suspension, but it's not that easy to make it stick, and the problem Silver has is that the pace at which the outrage moves on a story like this is much, much faster than the pace at which they can do anything even remotely close to the due diligence necessary to make a well-reasoned decision here.
 
We got an edited piece of a tape which a woman who's in the middle of a lawsuit made as revenge.  It's very, very likely to be true, and fits with all of the other things we know about Sterling, which is why the outrage is moving at such a rapid pace.  But, that's also a hell of a lot of red flags to Silver thinking that this tape would stand up in court, and if his actions decrease the potential sale price of the franchise for Sterling, it's going to end up in court.   
 
So, he's definitely in a box here.  He can't possibly, at this stage, prove the things that he knows to be true and that are the basis for the suspension.  The one thing he can prove, I guess, is that Clippers sponsors are pulling out, and that might well be enough under NBA bylaws for him to suspend Sterling on *that* basis.  Kinda like getting Al Capone on tax evasion, but it's the result he can get...
 

Cellar-Door

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jon abbey said:
 
Lester Munson thinks that a 3/4 vote of the other owners could legally force him out, actually:
 
http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/10852199/challenge-donald-sterling
He's stretching immensely if he thinks they will be able to get a judge to agree that saying racist things to his girlfriend is a failure to fulfill a "contractual obligation". From the "anonymous" comments to reporters a  bunch of people inside the league office seem to think that is a no hope argument, as do some of the other sports law writers. For an example. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nba/news/20140426/donald-sterling-la-clippers-adam-silver-nba/
 
Edit- actually it seems like there is a split. Jeffrey Kessler, at Winston & Strawn seems to think they could, though they might not want to.
 

mauidano

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What does a suspension do?  He's not a player or coach.  Big fucking deal.  I'm sure he pretty much just signs the checks...or the vouchers for "food, houses and cars".  He can say whatever he wants.  He's a lunatic and this is widely known.  Unless he sells majority ownership, good luck doing anything.  
 
Someone needs to have a conversation with his gold digging freak who recorded him.  She's got issues too, legal ones.
 

wutang112878

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Tomorrow Silver announces that he is suspended indefinitely, receives a record setting fine and the NBA is in the process of evaluating its next steps.
 
Privately, Plan A for Silver is to try to market the team to every billionaire he can find to try to buy Sterling out.  The NBA also starts setting up a legal strategy to remove him, but this is plan H because with Sterling's stubbornness and willingness to fight in court this would take years.  Additionally, Silver is trying to come up with every conceivable option for plans B to G which would include things like making him a Corleone style offer he cant refuse.
 
I also dont think we are going to feel fulfilled after the press conference, there is no way we get what we really feel is right for the NBA.
 

JimBoSox9

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Indefinite suspension tomorrow, something convoluted over the summer that's less than a sale but leaves some combo of the wife and son-in-law calling the shots. A sincere amount of begging will get Doc and CP3 and LeBron to agree to call it a win.

The history of racism and real vs feigned outrage are interesting questions in the abstract, but irrelevant to what happens next. The vetting process is over on this news cycle, and however one feels about the reasons it's a confirmed Big Fuckin Deal. It's not a league that can have this problem, sometimes you fight a battle you know you can't win just to say you did.
 

wutang112878

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JimBoSox9 said:
It's not a league that can have this problem, sometimes you fight a battle you know you can't win just to say you did.
 
Huh?  Are you saying the league cant force him to sell but they have to act like it? 
 

ivanvamp

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Could the league (the other owners plus commissioner's office) simply vote to disband the Clippers?  I mean, hey, great, you still own the team, but the team isn't allowed in the NBA anymore!  Is that possible?
 

JimBoSox9

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wutang112878 said:
 
Huh?  Are you saying the league cant force him to sell but they have to act like it? 
I suspect something vaguely more amicable will be worked out, but if Sterling wants to go to the mattresses, yes, absofuckinglutely.

The minimum viable outcome of this for the NBA is everyone (LeBron) to be well and convinced they did everything possible to get the racist sonofabitch out of their league. If it doesn't work, oh well, everyone hates lawyers anyways. Anything less and they have a real problem. The negativity has to be 100% on Sterling and 0% on the NBA, even if it means (horrors) taking low-probability legal action.
 

wutang112878

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ivanvamp said:
Could the league (the other owners plus commissioner's office) simply vote to disband the Clippers?  I mean, hey, great, you still own the team, but the team isn't allowed in the NBA anymore!  Is that possible?
 
Thats a great out of the box idea.  I mean they should certainly have the ability to contract, which in essence is the same thing, and I am guessing they wouldnt need an unanimous vote to do that.  However, that probably gets fought in court as well since typically when teams are contracted an arrangement is worked out with those owners before they are contracted.
 
Another small wild-card, what about the players?  I dont think they would have to approve contraction but would they take legal action when 3% of their jobs were taken away??
 

dcmissle

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Silver should do the maximum of what he clearly can do under the rules, which probably includes a lengthy suspension. The rest will take care of itself.

He's dead. On the court because players won't play for him and coaches won't coach for him down the road. Off the court because, much sooner, sponsors will flee and fans won't buy his merchandise. Then there is the matter of attendance.

So he's holding a wasting asset and like all smart businessmen in these circumstances, he'll bail.
 

wutang112878

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JimBoSox9 said:
I suspect something vaguely more amicable will be worked out, but if Sterling wants to go to the mattresses, yes, absofuckinglutely.

The minimum viable outcome of this for the NBA is everyone (LeBron) to be well and convinced they did everything possible to get the racist sonofabitch out of their league. If it doesn't work, oh well, everyone hates lawyers anyways. Anything less and they have a real problem. The negativity has to be 100% on Sterling and 0% on the NBA, even if it means (horrors) taking low-probability legal action.
 
Gotcha, thats what I thought and I agree about 99%.  I dont expect Sterling to work something out with them, I expect him to be a stubborn SOB and fight to the end.  In the two housing discrimination lawsuits against him he fought for years when the smart marketing / business play would have been to quickly make them go away quickly and quietly.  Instead he fought to the point (his lawyers words) "decided to settle the case because the cost of continued litigation far exceeded the cost of settlement".  Which is what I would expect from him here, he will continue the legal battle until there is no money to be gained from continuing.
 

riboflav

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dcmissle said:
Silver should do the maximum of what he clearly can do under the rules, which probably includes a lengthy suspension. The rest will take care of itself.

He's dead. On the court because players won't play for him and coaches won't coach for him down the road. Off the court because, much sooner, sponsors will flee and fans won't buy his merchandise. Then there is the matter of attendance.

So he's holding a wasting asset and like all smart businessmen in these circumstances, he'll bail.
 
I have a hard time believing that players will turn down millions of dollars to play for the Clippers. If no one will play there, then what?? The NBA has one less team and 12 fewer jobs for players? Fat chance.
 

axx

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Don't have a real feel for the buzz in LA, but I'm almost wondering if they will just simply cancel the remainder of the series and advance Golden State. It's pretty obvious that the Clippers aren't interested in playing hard, so it's not like it will change the outcome at all.
 

ivanvamp

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SOMEBODY will play for the Clippers.  I mean, as long as they're in the league, they will get draft picks.  Say you're a guy like, oh, Jerami Grant, and you get drafted by the Clippers.  You're not good enough to hold out and have them cave to your trade demands.  You can't go back to college.  You could, I guess, play in Europe. But even then, when you do come back to the NBA you're Clippers' property.  
 
If your choice is to be out of the league or play for the Clippers, you're going to play.  There are plenty of jackasses that own or run teams and that doesn't stop players from playing for them.  Maybe this is worse than most other situations, but players will still play for them.  They may go back to sucking, but hey, that's pretty much been status quo for the Clips until the last couple of years anyway.
 

dcmissle

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riboflav said:
 
I have a hard time believing that players will turn down millions of dollars to play for the Clippers. If no one will play there, then what?? The NBA has one less team and 12 fewer jobs for players? Fat chance.
Not immediately, but down the road. And I could easily see whoever the Clippers draft in a few weeks refusing to report to the team.

Now I'd like you to tell me where Sterling is going to come up with the money until today provided by State Farm, Kia, Car Fax and all the other sponsors.
 

ivanvamp

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dcmissle said:
Not immediately, but down the road. And I could easily see whoever the Clippers draft in a few weeks refusing to report to the team.

Now I'd like you to tell me where Sterling is going to come up with the money until today provided by State Farm, Kia, Car Fax and all the other sponsors.
 
If, say, State Farm, has a contract to advertise with the Clippers, then how can they back out of that contract without paying the Clippers what they contractually owe them?
 

dcmissle

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ivanvamp said:
 
If, say, State Farm, has a contract to advertise with the Clippers, then how can they back out of that contract without paying the Clippers what they contractually owe them?
Because they wisely include contractual clauses in these agreements that allow them to walk away at a moment's notice in circumstances like these.

Edit -- as of tonight, 9 companies have suspended their sponsorships and 4 others have terminated them outright.
 

riboflav

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IDK. I got to think if the difference is playing in the NBA and getting paid versus not being in the NBA and not getting paid (like a draftee not reporting), a player gonna play. That said, I can see all star/high-priced FAs not going to LAC as long as Sterling is there.
 

crystalline

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Does anyone have a good breakdown of how much of the Clippers revenue comes from league-wide or unchangeable agreements, and how much is negotiated directly with the team?

Sounds like a bunch of advertising is directly done with the Clippers. Do they get ticket revenue since they don't own the arena? Merchandise is split amongst all the teams, right? What about TV revenue- is that locked in or does loss of TV advertising hurt?

In other words- how much can the Clippers near-term bottom line be affected by boycotts of fans and advertisers? Is it enough to force Sterling's hand or can he coast along barely in the black indefinitely?
 

wutang112878

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There are 3 main sources:
  • National TV shared revenue - NBA gets ~$1B annually locked in so roughly $33M a team
  • Local TV contract: thats probably $20Mish?  A guess based on what some other teams supposedly get but it cant be more than the national one and this is locked in as well
  • Gate: Clips do get the gate but they probably pay some fee to the arena for the year.  Lets say the average ticket price is $60 and this year they drew 788K in attendance so there is another $47M, but recently in 11/12 they drew 634K which is $38M, so somewhere in that range
Then I wouldnt have the slightest idea what that advertising revenue might be, I dont even know how many zeros would be in the number. 
 
The other consideration is the salary floor which was $53M this year.  If he was getting squeezed I am sure Sterling would be willing to slash payroll to the minimum to keep himself afloat.  So he would have to spend $53M floor + operating costs   But if the local deal is $20M and the gate is $38M, he's already got a big chunk of what he needs. 
 

Tony C

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My call is that he goes the route Munson lays out if not more. It has to be even harsher than reasonable expectation if he's going to save the situation.
 
Silver's smart.
 

Tony C

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If Silver comes out and says he's going to call for that 3/4 vote, I have a hard time thinking that 1/4 of league owners would dare stand up to the sort of pressure they'd be under to go along. It's his smart move.
 

Cellar-Door

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dcmissle said:
Not immediately, but down the road. And I could easily see whoever the Clippers draft in a few weeks refusing to report to the team.

Now I'd like you to tell me where Sterling is going to come up with the money until today provided by State Farm, Kia, Car Fax and all the other sponsors.
I can't. You're telling me a kid with no income source is going to turn down a multi-million dollar contract, and any chance to play in the NBA. NBA draft rights don't expire, they own you forever.
 
 
Tony C said:
If Silver comes out and says he's going to call for that 3/4 vote, I have a hard time thinking that 1/4 of league owners would dare stand up to the sort of pressure they'd be under to go along. It's his smart move.
Problem is it isn't exactly open and shut that they can do it. Munson posted some of the language, it is definitely vague enough that Sterling would get an injunction to stop it, and the court battle would be fierce, long and publicly ugly. The 3/4 vote clause is unlikely to be used, it is really just leverage to convice Sterling to sell or transfer the team.
 

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Maybe Sterling's legal team is ready for a years of legal battling, but don't forget, the guy is 80. How many years of legal battling does he have left?
 

Cellar-Door

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Maybe Sterling's legal team is ready for a years of legal battling, but don't forget, the guy is 80. How many years of legal battling does he have left?
Being old probably makes it more likely he'd battle not less, it wouldn't be much of a bother to him, he can afford it, and he doesn't have to worry about future business deals etc since he has more than enough to live very well for the rest of his life.
 

Jnai

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For preditction:
Indefinitely suspended from contact with team, banned from any NBA facilities or games, largest allowable fine under bylaws.
 
My guess is that there will be more story after the Clippers are eliminated, as I would guess that there will be players who refuse to play for him while he owns the team, Doc may not want to deal with the shit, etc.
 
Ultimately, I think his own pride forces him out faster than any ownership deal or 3/4 vote. If he was concerned about his mistress posting pictures of herself on instagram with Magic Johnson, he must be way more image conscious than we would otherwise think. Guy must be beside himself that he's being publicly smeared like this. By far the easiest way out is to get out of the NBA business. Then he can just go back to being a billionaire without worrying about this shit.
 
They almost certainly aren't going to contract the league or take away the team outright or any other shenanigans. It would spark a legal battle they don't have any need to get into.
 

Tony C

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Cellar-Door said:
 
Problem is it isn't exactly open and shut that they can do it. Munson posted some of the language, it is definitely vague enough that Sterling would get an injunction to stop it, and the court battle would be fierce, long and publicly ugly. The 3/4 vote clause is unlikely to be used, it is really just leverage to convice Sterling to sell or transfer the team.
 
oh, he'll have legal basis to sue -- but I just predict Silver won't worry about that, he'll go for max possible out of the gate and then let the lawyers fight it out.
 

wutang112878

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Jnai said:
 
Ultimately, I think his own pride forces him out faster than any ownership deal or 3/4 vote. If he was concerned about his mistress posting pictures of herself on instagram with Magic Johnson, he must be way more image conscious than we would otherwise think. Guy must be beside himself that he's being publicly smeared like this.
 
Not to pick on you because a lot of people are doing it, but I dont understand why people are assuming Sterling is a decent, normal human being who take rationale steps.  He publicly flaunts a mistress.  He wasnt concerned with her flaunting those pictures instead he was concerned with the skin color of the person she was flaunting.  He literally said "Don't bring black people, and don't come."  If he was image conscious he probably would have quietly settled the housing discrimination lawsuits against him, but he fought those until the bitter end instead.  I'm sure he's a little concerned about the punishment he might get, but I think its more likely that he is preparing to dig his heels in and fight than being beside himself.
 

HomeRunBaker

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* $1m fine today.

* Indefinite suspension from all team and league activities effective today.

* League will work swiftly with other 29 owners to "potentially" pursue other actions.

* Silver uses the word "swiftly" 4 times during presser.
 

crystalline

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HomeRunBaker said:
* $1m fine today.

* Indefinite suspension from all team and league activities effective today.

* League will work swiftly with other 29 owners to "potentially" pursue other actions.

* Silver uses the word "swiftly" 4 times during presser.
I second this: 1m fine, indef suspension from active involvement. And I will add the prediction that the NBA 3/4 vote never gets used. The other owners don't want to set that precedent.
 

hittery

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He will announce today that he is selling the team and getting out of the business to focus on his family and personal issues. The league will fine him $750,000.
 

Average Reds

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Prediction:  He's going to be suspended indefinitely.  He'll probably be fined a significant amount.  (Well, significant for normal people.)
 
Analysis:  My guess is that Silver has to have already asked Sterling about the tape and not received a satisfactory answer.  Because if not, I don't know how he suspends/fines an owner for statements from an edited tape that has not yet been authenticated and may or may not have been made with his permission.
 
Having said that, if Sterling ultimately declines to cooperate with Silver's investigation it will be the dumbest move he ever makes, because if my understanding of the ownership agreement in the NBA is correct (and it's all speculation based on what has been reported) that act of defiance is necessary for Silver to recommend that his ownership rights be revoked.
 
The reality is that Sterling's days as owner of the Clippers are numbered.  (Once sponsors bailed his fate was sealed.)  All we're doing now is watching the chess game as Sterling tries to maximize his payout during the process.
 

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Cellar-Door said:
I can't. You're telling me a kid with no income source is going to turn down a multi-million dollar contract, and any chance to play in the NBA. NBA draft rights don't expire, they own you forever.
 
 It's not unprecedented. Ricky Rubio and other foreign players have done this. A player could hold out to force a trade and/or play overseas.
 
And Sterling isn't going to be around forever, so they could always enter the league after he's gone.
 

wutang112878

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Rubio was an unique case, he eventually came to the NBA but he also had an existing contract that included a buyout and the large buyout is partially what caused the issues with him coming over. 
 

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Nothing tangible today. Silver will condemn the remarks, state more than once that the NBA "family" does not endorse, support or condone the remarks and then announce that the "legal process has to play out, including verifying Sterling's voice is on the tape". 
 
Suspensions and/or fines open the NBA to a lawsuit if it is not Sterling on the tapes or if they've been significantly doctored. There's just no way the NBA has had the time to get them analyzed or verified. And Silver would be beyond stupid to take action with that potential bombshell lingering. 
 
When the Clippers season is over, Doc Rivers quits. Chris Paul, as head of the NBAPA, threatens to not report and/or void the contracts of the Clippers players. When/if the tapes are confirmed, Silver convenes the other 29 owners and holds a non-binding vote, where he'll get 29-0 on revoking Sterling's membership in the cartel. And then Sterling will agree to sell the team, putting someone else in charge until the sale is final. 
 
If they (NBA owners) want Sterling gone, doing it publicly is not the way to make it happen. Giving Sterling no grounds for legal action that can delay the NBA's preferred outcome is the much smarter move long term. Whether the NBA can weather the short term storm (i.e. more sponsors jumping ship), they should do this as quietly and privately as possible. Silver can personally assure big sponsors that action will be taken but the legality needs to be worked out first. These billion dollar corporations will understand that. 
 
It will be interesting to see what the Clippers players do after Silver announces the "we're gonna wait" strategy. The one thing that can force the NBA into action is a pledge from the players to not take the court and forfeit a nationally televised playoff game. Apart from that, Silver can say some nice, reassuring things and do nothing while working quietly to remove Sterling. Public action at this time undermines that. 
 
So, if he gets suspended and fined, the NBA won't be forcing Sterling out. Which, frankly, is the less satisfying conclusion IMO.
 

Van Everyman

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Tony C said:
If Silver comes out and says he's going to call for that 3/4 vote, I have a hard time thinking that 1/4 of league owners would dare stand up to the sort of pressure they'd be under to go along. It's his smart move.
What would be interesting is if after one owner blows it bc he fails to realize that rich people don't live in a bubble anymore 29 other owners make the same mistake.

This whole episode, embarrassing as it is, is ultimately a referendum on sports ownership – specifically the end of a century living by a completely different set of rules than everyone else. Rules that permit racism and bigotry, abject cruelty and unethical business practices that were largely eradicated from the workplace decades ago.

Social media may enact a crude form of justice—and these guys will continue, by and large, to be assholes of the highest order—but in the long run, this will be a good thing because it establishes that how these guys conduct themselves—in public and private—matters.

My prediction: he is suspended, fined and the path is paved for transfer of ownership to his lovely wife.
 

smastroyin

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I can't believe the level of outrage over this compared to Sterling's past.  There is a whole other thread on this of course.
 
In relation to predictions, what I think this means is the NBA knows damn well what a racist asshole Sterling is, and has for some time.  If they force him out now, what is to stop him from reporting on the way they all looked the other way for years?  I don't think they want to take that kind of a chance.  So whatever happens in terms of transitioning away from him is going to be something that allows him to profit.
 
My prediction is the fine, he will be asked to step down but will retain ownership interest (perhaps through a foundation or his wife).  He will pledge donations to the NAACP and others.  
 
I also predict that Sterling and/or his wife (in separate cases) will sue for civil extortion against Stiviano.  And there may be enough smoke there that the state of California goes for felony charges of their own.  I realize that in SoSH-justice land any means necessary to get someone to confess to being a bigot is ok, but the law doesn't necessarily agree. 
 

soxfan121

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Van Everyman said:
What would be interesting is if after one owner blows it bc he fails to realize that rich people don't live in a bubble anymore 29 other owners make the same mistake.

This whole episode, embarrassing as it is, is ultimately a referendum on sports ownership – specifically the end of a century living by a completely different set of rules than everyone else. Rules that permit racism and bigotry, abject cruelty and unethical business practices that were largely eradicated from the workplace decades ago.

Social media may enact a crude form of justice—and these guys will continue, by and large, to be assholes of the highest order—but in the long run, this will be a good thing because it establishes that how these guys conduct themselves—in public and private—matters.
 
:bravo:
 
Although being deeply cynical, I don't believe in my bones that the bold will sink in or be the result, etc. But I wish it does. Oh, do I wish it does. 
 
And your last paragraph is the key. Brilliant post.
 

Rudi Fingers

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Now that word has come out that the voice on the tape has been verified as Sterling, I join the large group here predicting an indefinite suspension.  
 
I also predict that the team will play in its road "Los Angeles" jerseys to show that they are playing for the city and its people, and not the "Clippers" organization.
 
 
NBA lawyers have listened to audio in presence of V. Stiviano and are satisfied it is Donald Sterling’s voice on the tape. (via @ TMZ)[twitter]SportsCenter[/twitter]
 

JimBoSox9

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wutang112878 said:
 
Not to pick on you because a lot of people are doing it, but I dont understand why people are assuming Sterling is a decent, normal human being who take rationale steps.  He publicly flaunts a mistress.  He wasnt concerned with her flaunting those pictures instead he was concerned with the skin color of the person she was flaunting.  He literally said "Don't bring black people, and don't come." 
I thought Jnai made a good point. I hadn't considered the potential for litigation from the perspective of how Sterling is viewing this news cycle. Like you, I wasn't really crediting him with any human reactions and didn't consider that he may actually be troubled by his now-magnified racist reputation.

The guy I heard on that recording was unquestionably a racist, but he multiple times vehemently denied it in a way that felt plausible it's sincere in his own twisted head. You'd be surprised how many of these guys really believe they're being fair and logical while at the same time fundamentally conflating economic/class issues with racial ones.

I still can't say a full Sterling seppuku to save his rep feels like the likely path, but it would be fascinating.
 
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