A July 7 trial date was set Wednesday on a probate petition filed by Shelly Sterling that could determine the fate of a sale deal for the NBA Los Angeles Clippers.
The wife of embattled Clippers owner Donald Sterling wants the Los Angeles County Superior Court to complete a $2 billion sale of the NBA team to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and prevent a “significant loss” to the family trust if her husband be able to block the sale.
The trial, set to last four days, would end just days before the deadline to complete the sale and when NBA owners are scheduled to meet to vote on whether or not to approve the sale.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN on Wednesday that the league stands ready to consider, and likely approve, the deal provided Shelly Sterling wins the case and can sell to Ballmer.
“It will happen. And I think Donald ultimately knows that,” Silver said. “He can jam up the works a little bit right now, but it’s time for him to move on.”
Shelly Sterling also claimed her husband was unable to manage his own business affairs in papers filed with the court, including test results from two doctors declaring him incompetent, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Donald Sterling’s racist remarks in a private conversion, recorded and made public in April by celebrity website TMZ, led Silver to ban him from the NBA for life and begin to process to have owners strip him of the Clippers.
A vote was scheduled on the matter last week but called off after Donald Sterling empowered Shelly Sterling to make a deal and she struck an agreement with Ballmer.
But the league wanted Donald Sterling to withdraw a lawsuit against the NBA and Silver before it would approve the deal.
Donald Sterling said this week he was pulling out of the sale deal and moving ahead with his lawsuit.
Shelly Sterling’s filing called her husband’s stated plan for a legal fight with the NBA “costly and protracted with little likelihood of success.”
Shelly Sterling also submitted results of CT and PET scans of her husband to support her mental incompetence claims.
Psychiatrist Meril Platzer examined Sterling on May 19 and said in a letter 10 days later that he could not carry out his duties due to “an impairment of his level of attention, information processing, short-term memory impairment and ability to modulate mood (or) emotional lability and is at risk of making potentially serious errors of judgment.”
– ‘No longer competent’ –
Dr. James Spar saw Donald Sterling on May 22 and wrote his “cognitive impairment” left him “at risk of making potentially serious errors of judgment, impulse contriol and recall in the management of his finances and his trust.”
Spar also said he was “substantially unable to manage his finances and resist fraud and undue influence and is no longer competent to act as trustee of his trust.”
Donald Sterling’s lawyer, Max Blecher, called such claims “absurd.”
NBA general counsel Richard Buchanan said the league, the Clippers and the Sterling trust faced “substantial harm” unless the sale to Ballmer was “promptly consummated.”
“Every day Mr. Sterling remains an owner of the Clippers causes additional damage to the team, the trust, and the NBA,” Buchanan said.
He cited low morale among some Clippers employees and threats to resign without a resolution to the matter soon.