How will Silver respond to Sterling?

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
2:17
PM ET
Eighty-five days.

That's the extent of the grace period Adam Silver -- the NBA's rookie commissioner, who started Feb. 1 -- was plunged into his first crisis.

The scope and furor of the scandal brought on by the racist comments made allegedly by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is such that Silver is already facing what's being described as a defining moment for both his own tenure and the league.

What happens next?

Once an investigation into the authenticity of the tapes implicating Sterling is completed, Silver says he'll use his "broad powers" to assess a "range of sanctions" against Sterling. After conversations with high-level league sources possessing knowledge of the issues Silver is considering, ESPN.com offers the following Q&A, examining where things stand as the Clippers return to Los Angeles for Tuesday's Game 5 of their first-round playoff series with the Golden State Warriors.

Q: What are Silver's specific and immediate options for sanctioning Sterling?

A: The NBA is not going to try to snatch Sterling's team away from him before Game 5. Not that quickly.

The league might never have the gumption to try that step, thanks to the various legal hurdles that stand in the way of the course that seething Clippers players and coaches are hoping for.

A lengthy suspension for Sterling is believed to be the ceiling on Silver's authority in the short term, and only when the NBA's official investigation is complete. That includes the complicated process of confirming that the male voice on the recordings obtained and distributed by TMZ is indeed Sterling's.

Click here for the full Q&A

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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