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NBA Commissioner Seeks to Force Turnover of Clippers

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- With the move by National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver to force Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling to sell his team, industry watchers expect a robust auction that could see the team sell for upward of $1 billion.

"There would be plenty of interest and it would command a pretty strong price," said Larry Grimes, head of W.B. Grimes & Co., an investment bank focused on sports and media businesses." When you look at recent NBA deals, i.e. Milwaukee, even bad teams are getting good valuations."

Silver, who took the helm of the league in January, said Tuesday at a press conference that he would seek approval from the league's owners to force a Clippers sale.

"I will urge the board of governors to force a sale of the team and will do everything in my power to ensure that happens," Silver said. "The process will be begin immediately."

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In response to a question at the news conference, called to announce the decision, Silver explained that Sterling can be removed if three-quarters of the league's owners vote to do so. He added that the ban applies only to Sterling personally, not to members of his family. Silver also said he had "no idea" whether Sterling would fight the move to remove him as owner.

The decision comes after Sterling, a former personal injury lawyer turned real estate mogul, was recorded making racist comments by a former mistress. Sterling has been fined $2.5 million - the maximum penalty allowed by the NBA - and has been banned for life from associating with the league and the team.

"We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today," the Clippers said in a statement issued Tuesday. "Now the healing process begins."

While the NBA commissioner wants Sterling out, potential buyers should not count on getting a bargain.

"It's certainly not going to be a fire sale; if [Sterling's] past is any indicator I think he would sue the league if it was turned into a fire sale," said Grimes. "He is going to get top dollar for this, baggage or not."

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