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Silver standing firm on Sterling situation

NBA Board of Governors Basketball
John Locher - AP
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said “We’re doing everything in our power to move Donald (Sterling) out as an owner …."

LAS VEGAS NBA Commissioner Adam Silver can’t predict with certainty whether the court system will confirm his position that that NBA can strip Donald Sterling of ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.

But Silver sounded awfully confident when asked that question Tuesday following the NBA’s summer Board of Governors meeting.

“We’re doing everything in our power to move Donald out as an owner in the NBA,” Silver said at a news conference.

But is that within the league’s power?

“It’s highly, highly unlikely” courts would rule against the league if it comes to that, Silver replied. “We’re absolutely acting within our rights.”

The league was prepared to hold hearings intending to strip Sterling of the team. Then Sterling’s wife, Shelly, interceded, negotiating a deal to sell to former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

After that Donald Sterling sued, asserting his wife doesn’t have final say in the matter.

Silver said Tuesday if the trial involving the Sterlings holds up the sale to Ballmer, he’d “reopen proceedings to terminate the franchise.”

On other topics, Silver commented:

• He reiterated Charlotte’s chance of landing a future NBA All-Star Game is contingent on the city approving various upgrades to Time Warner Cable Arena. Silver said there have been no recent discussions on this matter, but he has assured Hornets owner Michael Jordan and team president Fred Whitfield he’d love to bring the All-Star Game back to Charlotte.

• Silver addressed the expected bump in television revenues expected in two years when current deals with Time Warner/Turner and ABC/ESPN expire. Silver said the league hopes to have both entities back as the league’s TV outlets.

Asked specifically about players matching contract expirations to the anticipated rise in the salary cap, Silver said there’s some logic to that strategy but also some jeopardy.

“There’s also a risk in shorter contracts,” Silver said, noting that most players’ deals are fully guaranteed.

• Asked about the league’s relationship with the city of Las Vegas (the league holds league-wide meetings here in conjunction with summer league), Silver said two possibilities have been discussed: A Las Vegas-based awards show after the regular season and the concept of a mid-season tournament, bringing teams from around the league to Las Vegas.

• Silver praised LeBron James for how gracefully he announced his leaving the Miami Heat for the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency.

“I was moved by his statements” about returning to Northeast Ohio, Silver said. “It says a lot about who he is and who he’s become. … That this was about something larger than about basketball and the NBA.”

• On how the collective bargaining agreement has played out, Silver said it’s succeeded in the league’s desire to have “something closer to a hard cap.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell
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