Shelly Sterling fielding inquiries

Updated: May 26, 2014, 2:18 PM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPN.com

Shelly Sterling has received inquiries from at least six serious bidders for the Los Angeles Clippers, sources told ESPN on Sunday. Shelly Sterling reached an agreement with her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, to negotiate a sale of the franchise after he was banned for life and fined $2.5 million by NBA commissioner Adam Silver on April 29.

Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, is handling the sale with Bob Baradaran, a managing partner at his law firm Greenberg Glusker, and Darren Schield and Doug Watson of Beverly Hills Properties, a real estate company owned by the Sterling family.

Shelly Sterling met with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Sunday to discuss a possible sale of the team, ESPN confirmed.

While Ballmer was a part of the effort to bring the NBA back to Seattle last year, he said in a Wall Street Journal article last week that he is open to owning a team elsewhere.

"If the opportunity is outside of Seattle, so be it. I will learn about any team that comes up for sale at this point," Ballmer told the Wall Street Journal. "If I get interested in the Clippers, it would be for Los Angeles. I don't work anymore, so I have more geographic flexibility than I did a year, year-and-a half ago. Moving them anywhere else would be value-destructive."

For her part, Shelly Sterling would not consider selling the team to any group that intended to relocate the franchise, a source told ESPN.

Ballmer was photographed sitting with Silver at the Clippers-Thunder game on May 11.

Still at issue is whether the NBA will allow Shelly Sterling to control the sale of the team. The league issued a statement Friday stating it intends to proceed with a June 3 hearing that would terminate Donald Sterling's ownership of the team. The league has made it clear that it would only consider a sale of the team if Shelly Sterling sold it in its entirety.

Among the issues Shelly Sterling is considering, the source said, are the substantial tax obligations she would incur from the sale.

According to IRS rules, the Sterlings would have to pay a federal long-term capital-gains tax of 20 percent and a California tax of 13.3 percent. The tax would be on the difference between what the team was bought for and what it is ultimately sold for. If the team is sold for $1 billion, the Sterlings would be taxed $328.5 million on the sale. Sterling bought the team from Irv Levin in 1981 for $13.5 million.

Another potential ownership group consists of former NBA All-Star Grant Hill and billionaire investors and longtime Southern California residents Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh. Sources told ESPN.com that Hill's group is already regarded by league officials as a viable contender for the Clippers.

Information from ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Darren Rovell contributed to this report.

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