Last week, when I posted the L.A. Clippers’ summer to-do list, more than a few readers put “Get a new owner” as their No. 1 suggestion. While it’s obvious that current owner Donald Sterling‘s reign of futility has kept the Clips in place as the NBA’s running joke of a franchise, I never even entertained the idea of an ownership change because it was just not realistic — or at least that was the case last week.
According to sources cited by ESPN and the New York Post, the Clippers could be in line for a change at the top, as billionaire entertainment mogul David Geffen (DreamWorks, Geffen Records) is interested in buying 51 percent of the team from Sterling. And should that happen, LeBron James might come as part of the package. From ESPN:
Sterling has insisted for nearly three decades that he will never sell the franchise. But the New York Post reported in Tuesday’s editions that Geffen — who already has a working relationship with James and (Maverick) Carter — has expressed interest in buying a 51 percent stake in the Clippers.
James was invited to watch Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center in Geffen’s seats, sources confirmed, but he ultimately elected not to attend Boston’s eventual 103-94 victory, fearful of the spectacle his courtside presence would create at a time that James’ impending free agency has routinely drawn media attention away from the playoffs.
Yet Carter, who handles the bulk of James’ business dealings, did watch the game with Geffen.
“Mr. Sterling has never expressed a desire to sell any part of his team,” Clippers president Andy Roeser told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. “Because it is an asset of remarkable value, it’s true that there have been countless inquiries over the years. But the Clippers have never been for sale.”
The NY paper also said Geffen personally told Sterling he “can deliver LeBron” if he gets his ownership stake. We’ve already seen what looks like teams firing/hiring coaches and GM’s to increase their chances at getting LeBron, but switching owners? That’s a whole new level.
It will take a Godfather offer for Sterling to loosen his grip on the Clips, but if Geffen pulls it off (or appears close to pulling it off come July), L.A. would have to become pretty attractive to LeBron. He’d have Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, Baron Davis and Chris Kaman surrounding him in the starting five, the benefits of playing in a huge media market, and would bank approximately $32 billion in Nike money being in the same town as Kobe.
Even throwing the LeBron part out of the equation, the Clippers would become a factor in the NBA again with Geffen (or anybody else) in control. Baron came to L.A. in free agency because it’s his hometown and they threw a ton of money at him, but otherwise this franchise usually doesn’t attract big-time free agents because of its notorious ownership and losing history. Los Angeles itself is a destination city for pro athletes, and the Clippers could get back into that mix. Whether you believe in curses or not, I can’t imagine any NBA fan who would be against this move.