Sterling cloud hovers over Clippers

ByArash Markazi ESPN logo
Friday, May 16, 2014

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin says he doesn't anticipate Donald Sterling being the owner of the team at the start of next season but concedes he would have to decide on his future with the Clippers if new ownership were not in place.

"I don't anticipate that being how it's going to be," Griffin said when asked whether he could continue to play for the team if Sterling were owner at the start of next season. "If it still is, I'll make a decision then. It's not something that's ideal. Personally, I don't know all the ins and outs of everything. I hear stuff just like everybody else does, but I don't know what's really true or not. It's up to [the league], but I don't think that's an ideal situation for us, to start next season with that still going on."

Sterling was banned for life and fined $2.5 million by the league for racist remarks he made that were published by TMZ. Sterling's lawyer informed the NBA this week that Sterling would not be paying the fine levied against him by commissioner Adam Silver and threatened to sue the league if Sterling was not afforded due process.

The prospect of a prolonged legal battle that could drag into next season was something Griffin said was not in the best interest of anyone, except for perhaps Donald and Shelly Sterling.

"Personally, I think the longer it lasts, the worse it's going to be," Griffin said. "I think something should happen and I think it should happen quickly. I think guys need to make decisions. I don't think anybody wants this to drag out except for one or two people. I think it needs to be swift.

"We need to make our decision or they need to make their decision or whatever it is and make a change. But, at the same time, we have to be patient. There is a due process that has to happen and I understand that, but I don't want to keep answering questions about it."

Griffin, along with teammates J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford, spoke at the team's training facility a day after the Clippers' season ended with a 104-98 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of a Western Conference semifinal series.

Redick wasn't sure what he would do if Sterling remained the owner but doesn't envision a scenario where Sterling would keep the team for long even if he is technically still the owner to start next season.

"It's definitely not the forefront of what I'm thinking about, but I will say it appears as though this will be a long process and things will be in flux for a while," Redick said. "I can't imagine a scenario where we start the season next year and he's the owner and all is kosher. He may be the owner when we start the season, but I would imagine that there will be some legal proceedings ongoing if that's the scenario."

Crawford echoed his teammates' sentiments when asked about his future with the team if Sterling is still the owner when next season rolls around.

"Honestly, I couldn't give you a real honest answer right now," Crawford said. "I still can't believe the season is over. I'm still dealing with those emotions to think about it."

While the players didn't make excuses for losing the series, they acknowledged that the past month took its toll on them physically and emotionally -- on and off the court.

"As humans, you have an emotional capacity for so much," Redick said. "Unfortunately, I think between that [Sterling situation], the Warriors, that series, Game 7 of that series, the way we won Game 4 [against the Thunder], the way we lost Game 5 ... all of that combined took a lot out of us.

"I said to my wife this morning, she made me breakfast, and I just started weeping again. You wait your whole life to play with a group of guys like that and you hope that's the group you end up winning with. When it doesn't happen, it's devastating."

Griffin, who had a career season and finished third in MVP voting in his first year playing for coach Doc Rivers, said this season was a learning experience for the Clippers and expects the team to compete for a championship if the core group returns.

"I think you definitely have to go through this," Griffin said. "Nobody has the formula for winning. The more I lose, and every time we lose as a team, it's like I figure out how not to do it. I don't want to keep this up, but it is a necessary adversity that you have to go through as a player to be able to get to where you want. I've heard guys say it makes it that much sweeter when you do get to the top.

"You have to let the sting linger for a while. I kind of want to use that in the summer as I prepare for next season."

Griffin's preparation for next season will include playing for Team USA at the FIBA Basketball World Cup this summer in Spain.

"I'm looking forward to the experience of playing with those guys -- top-level talent from across the NBA," he said. "It's great. I think you can learn from players in that situation and playing under Coach [Mike Krzyzewski]. I look to use that as a learning experience and to grow my game as we go through that process."

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