ballmer-headshotThe Los Angeles Clippers are all yours, Steve Ballmer.

Donald Sterling has officially dropped his $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA and has agreed to allow his wife, Shelly, to sell the Clippers to the former Microsoft CEO for $2 billion.

Sterling, who was banned from the NBA in April after making racist comments, previously said he was going to take legal action against the league after it planned to remove Sterling from ownership. He was also considering fighting the sale of the team after allowing his wife to conduct negotiations.

But now it looks like the Clippers will be in Ballmer’s hands once the NBA’s Board of Governors votes to approve the deal, which is expected in the coming weeks.

clippers22The $2 billion price tag is the second-largest amount of money ever paid for a North American sports team, and far greater than the previous NBA high ($550 million for the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this year). Ballmer, who stepped down from Microsoft after 34 years in February, outbid two other investor groups who had offered $1.6 billion and $1.2 billion.

Related: What type of NBA owner will Steve Ballmer be? Four clues from his Microsoft career

Those hoping that Ballmer moves the team up north to Seattle, a city he’s tried to move an NBA team to before, will be disappointed. Earlier reports noted that the NBA Board of Governors will require that Ballmer keep the team in Los Angeles, and the 57-year-old even said himself that he’ll do “everything in his power” to keep the Clippers in L.A. That makes sense for Ballmer from a financial outlook, with a much more lucrative market in California versus Washington and a team that ranked seventh in league attendance this season.

That’s not good news for Seattle hoops fans, who had their Sonics leave town to Oklahoma City in 2008. In fact, it may be at least three years before the possibility of a franchise in Seattle is fathomable. Sports radio host Mitch Levy, who’s been in close contact with Ballmer since he tried to bring the Sacramento Kings to Seattle last year, had this to say last week:

Ballmer, a Detroit native who resides in the Seattle area, will undoubtedly be spending more time in sunny Southern California now that he just spent 10 percent of his net worth on an NBA team there. As my colleague John Cook outlined this morning, this could have implications far greater than just basketball.

If Ballmer ends up spending his retirement in a place other than Seattle, it would be a big blow to the tech region here. Many people assumed that after retiring from Microsoft, Ballmer would stick around Washington and play a part in the community via philanthropy or — as many in the startup community hoped — angel investing. (See: Seattle entrepreneur starts petition asking Steve Ballmer to create $500M startup fund).

Of course, Ballmer could still do that. But his absence will certainly affect his ability to really make a mark on the tech scene here in Seattle.

Reports have noted that Ballmer is moving to Los Angeles, although when exactly is unclear. He still has a teenage son that just entered high school in the Seattle region.

Comments

  • Hmmmmmm

    It’s not about Seattle! It’s about Ballmer’s boyhood dream of owning an NBA team. NBA in Seattle … not a priority for this rich guy. He made lots of people very rich in Seattle….Seattle has nothing to miss when he moves to LA and runs the Clippers. Our entire city owes him a huge debt of gratitude for all the prosperity he brought here. NBA is not even a thought in this regard.

Job Listings on GeekWork