As Shelly Sterling reviewed bids and continued to move aggressively to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, refused to budge from his vow to fight the NBA's charges to terminate his ownership and force a sale of the team.
Shelly Sterling and her advisers are negotiating with three serious bidders for the Clippers -- with sources saying the strongest bids are well over $1 billion -- in what is turning into a rush to find a buyer for the franchise before Tuesday's board of governors meeting at which both of the Sterlings' ownership interests could be terminated.
Despite the pace of the sale and seriousness of the buyers -- sources said bidders were asked to post a $300 million deposit -- Donald Sterling's continuing opposition is beginning to worry several groups. The concern, one source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN, is that he is using the sale process to establish a value for the franchise so he later can sue the league for damages if forced to sell.
In the books given to prospective buyers, sources said, Shelly Sterling has offered to sell 100 percent of the team, which has been an important condition for the NBA. However, sources said she also set parameters for prospective buyers that will allow her to have some association with the team.
The franchise and the team's recently built practice facility in Playa Vista, California, are part of the sale, sources said. However, the winning bidder theoretically could prefer to lease the facility from the Sterlings, a source said.
But while Shelly Sterling and her advisers have pressed to sell the team at an accelerated pace, Max Blecher, an attorney for Donald Sterling, told ESPN that his client has no intention of selling and has only grown stronger in his resolve to fight the NBA's charges against him.
"He wants to retain the team and fight the NBA charges," Blecher said.
Asked about a letter from Sterling's personal attorney sent to the NBA on May 22 that states Sterling "agrees to the sale of his interest in the Los Angeles Clippers" and confirms he authorized his wife to negotiate with the NBA "regarding all issues in connection with a sale" of the team, Blecher said his client has since changed his mind.
"On May 22, that's what he wanted to do," Blecher said. "But as time has evolved, he's come to a much more hard-line position.
"The May 22 letter was something he wouldn't think of doing today. It's an evolutionary process; he's gone from 'shock and awe' to 'go get 'em and kill 'em.'"
A reporter from Los Angeles television station KTLA visited Blecher's office Wednesday and took a photo of a document that appeared to be a lawsuit against the NBA. Blecher told ESPN late Wednesday evening that the document was "just a work sheet" and "not an official document."
"It has not been filed anywhere," he said. "It was just a piece of paper in my office. There has been no final decision made on filing a lawsuit against the NBA."
Blecher said he spoke to Sterling three times Wednesday to discuss his position. Asked whether Sterling might relent and sell the team if his wife is indeed able to secure a bid before Tuesday's hearing, Blecher said, "I don't know."