NBA commissioner Adam Silver will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. eastern today to discuss the Donald Sterling racism scandal.
He is expected to announce Sterling’s punishment.
The consensus is that Silver will give Sterling a long, possibly indefinite suspension and a seven-figure fine, but will fall short of forcing him to sell the team.
Like many reporters, ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne are hearing that the suspension will be “indefinite” and the fine will be “up to $US1 million”:
“Most insiders, as the weekend unfolded, thus expected Silver to pursue an indefinite suspension of Sterling from league activity that would also include a substantial fine of up to $US1 million, with the corresponding hope that the pressure on and outrage toward Sterling that’s piling up daily as a result of this scandal will ultimately convince him that selling the team is the only sensible recourse.”
Sports attorney Gabe Feldman told CBS Sports the same thing:
“My educated guess is, we’ll see a fairly lengthy suspension and a hefty fine. But the commissioner has tremendous discretion to choose how hefty the fine will be and how long the suspension will be. And given that we don’t have much precedent to guide us here, it’s very hard to gauge the severity of the discipline.”
One “ownership source” told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated to expect an indefinite suspension.
Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the minimum penalty would be a one-year suspension and a $US1 million fine. He also reports that Silver has been looking into the viability of the “nuclear option” to strip Sterling of his franchise.
But there’s ample reason to be pessimistic about that actually happening.
In a statement, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who has taken the lead for the NBA Players’ Association, acknowledged that the league probably can’t take the team away from Sterling and called for an indefinite suspension and a big fine:
“At a minimum, Mr. Sterling should be suspended indefinitely, banned from games, slapped with the maximum fine possible, and forced to extract himself from basketball operations. He should be required to name someone from his executive team or family to take over all duties related to the Clippers.”
ESPN’s legal analyst Lester Munson says Silver has two punishment options under NBA by-laws: 1) an indefinite suspension and a $US1 million fine for making a statement “prejudicial or detrimental to the best interests of basketball,” or, 2) an indefinite suspension, a $US2.5 million fine, and the forfeiture of drafts picks for violations not covered in the NBA constitution.
The consensus seems to be that Silver will opt for Option 1.
Anything less than an indefinite suspension would be surprisingly lenient. Anything more than an indefinite suspension would be surprisingly bold.
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