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Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has reportedly handed over full ownership of the franchise to his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling. She has already begun talking with the NBA about selling the franchise herself.
Sources for TMZ said that Sterling saw that the league was fully prepared to force him to cede control of the team anyway, so he decided to make the move himself. As long as he controlled the franchise, he believed that he would be forced to sell the team on its terms.
A source close to the team also confirmed Sterling’s decision to ABC News. Its sources also say that Shelly Sterling has begun negotiations with the league on selling the Clippers.
Shelly Sterling will be fine with selling the Clippers, but only if she’s the one controlling the sale. She doesn’t want the NBA stepping in.
The NBA Board of Governors is scheduled to vote on forcing Sterling out of the league on June 3. Commissioner Adam Silver has already banned him from NBA activities for life and fined him $2.5 million. However, Sterling did not pay the fine on time and his attorney threatened to sue.
Earlier this week, the NBA did formally charge Sterling for allegedly damaging the NBA by making the racist comments at the center of the controversy. Sterling had made racist comments to his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, in a tape that leaked last month.
UPDATE: NBA Spokesman Mike Bass told CNN that the news will not change the process of forcing Sterling out.
"We continue to follow the process set forth in the NBA Constitution regarding termination of the current ownership interests in the Los Angeles Clippers and are proceeding toward a hearing on this matter on June 3," he said.