Last night, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was announced as the winner of the bidding war over the Los Angeles Clippers. Ballmer, pending approval of the NBA Board of Governors and a potential legal showdown between former owner Donald Sterling and the NBA, will purchase the Clippers for $2B.
This isn’t the first time that Ballmer has attempted to enter the NBA ownership club; last year he was involved in the ownership group attempting to purchase the Sacramento Kings with the intentions to move the franchise to Seattle.
That last part is what makes Ballmer’s purchase of the Clippers interesting to hockey fans. It has long been believed that for an NHL team to exist in Seattle, it will have to be partnered with a NBA franchise.
Ballmer maintains that his intentions are to keep the Clippers in Los Angeles, arguing moving the team to another city (Seattle) would not make sense from a revenue standpoint. What isn’t mentioned is that Ballmer’s bid would also be turned down if he stated outright that he intends to move the team. The owners turned down the bid last year that would have moved the Kings.
With the Lakers beginning a rare rebuild, the Clippers are currently the premier NBA team in Los Angeles, so Ballmer is likely to keep is word about ensuring the team will stay put. Keep in mind it wouldn’t be the first time an owner changed his mind about the location of a franchise.
It is more likely that the NBA and NHL will return to Seattle via expansion, as both leagues have tried to keep franchises in their respective cities. Perhaps a few years down the road, the Clippers return to mediocrity (remember when no one knew LA had a second NBA franchise?) and the Lakers return to elite status, Ballmer will have a change of heart and the Clippers will pack their bags for Seattle, ushering in an NHL franchise as well.