The Los Angeles Times is reporting that former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has won a bidding war for ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, with his offer of $2 billion setting an NBA record.
The Associated Press, citing a source with knowledge of the negotiations, later confirmed the agreement and selling price. The individual, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, told the Associated Press that Ballmer and the Sterling Family Trust now have a binding agreement. The deal now must be presented to the NBA.
According to the Times, the sale price is almost four times the previous high for an NBA franchise — the $550 million paid earlier this month for the Milwaukee Bucks. The deal is pending approval of the NBA’s 29 other owners.
If the sale is approved, it effectively ends any role Ballmer would play in bringing a team to Seattle and deals a serious blow to Chris Hansen’s efforts to secure a team and an arena.
Local politicians have been buzzing all month about what Ballmer’s next move means for the Sodo project after his very public appearances at Clippers playoff games and open courting of NBA commissioner Adam Silver in recent weeks. Silver told The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker last month in New York he’d be intrigued by Ballmer as an owner, because of his net worth and what his Microsoft background could bring a league looking at better employing technological innovation.
As Baker wrote about Ballmer earlier this week: “His passion to flat-out own any NBA team could trump a desire to wait out the longer haul here, in the same community where — according to various reports — he was actually forced out of his Microsoft job.”