Steve Ballmer Rumors

The NBA didn’t become a billionaire’s ball until April of 2014, when former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer paid $2 billion for the Clippers after Donald Sterling’s forced exit. Everyone in league circles knew the massive TV deal was coming by then, and so this became a costly risk worth taking. Fertitta’s record price was eclipsed in October, when Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai bought 49% of the Brooklyn Nets at a valuation of $2.3 billion (according to ESPN, he has an option to acquire controlling interest in 2021). “We were hell-bent that we weren’t going to lose (the bidding) this time,” Fertitta said. “But you can’t make somebody sell something to you if they don’t want to sell it. But all we could do is shoot every bullet we could, and I think Tad, you know we did – a lot more than anybody else.”
The Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers, for different reasons, went out on a ledge last Monday, then jumped, taking the proverbial leap of faith that what they’d just done would ultimately work out. But both, stuck in NBA limbo, are gambling — gambling the jobs of those who worked out the deal, gambling the futures of the players that remain on their respective teams after. The only person who was sitting pretty after it was all done was the centerpiece of the deal. Blake Griffin will get the $140 million coming to him through 2022 regardless. Now it’s just coming out of Pistons owner Tom Gores’ pocket, rather than Steve Ballmer’s. (And, Griffin will have to have some clothes sent to Detroit. Other than that … he’s good.)
Players can earn way more money than ever before from the team that drafted them. But that doesn’t mean owners will want to spend it, nor that players will want to take it. The biggest issue, however, is that signing such deals has made it it tremendously difficult to build a title-contending team around that player. Griffin’s situation is the perfect example. Multiple front-office executives told me that though the Griffin blockbuster sent shockwaves through the NBA, Clippers consultant Jerry West was ready to reconfigure the roster back in the summer once he knew Paul was a goner. Steve Ballmer just wasn’t ready to pull the plug. But even after the Clippers made several notable hires to the Clippers’ front office, West has the owner’s ear. As time passed and Griffin got injured again, Ballmer came to agree with West that paying an injury-prone player $171 million over five years, including $39 million when he’s 32, wasn’t in their best interest.