Shelly Sterling 'to negotiate Clippers sale'

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (C), his wife Shelly (L) attend the NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles,  22 December 2008 Shelly Sterling (left) is an alternate governor for the team and is a partial owner through a trust

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Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is authorising his wife to negotiate the sale of the basketball team, US media report.

She may seek to retain partial ownership of the club, reports say.

Mr Sterling was banned from the National Basketball Association (NBA) for life and fined $2.5m (£1.5m) after racist comments he made went public.

The sale could pre-empt a move by the NBA to force Mr Sterling to sell his interest in the basketball team.

The league has charged him with damaging the reputation of the NBA and its teams. Three-quarters of the team owners must vote to force the sale. The owners are meeting on 3 June to consider the matter.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations told the Associated Press news agency Shelly Sterling wanted "meaningful control" over the sale.

She and her husband own the team through a trust.

In a press conference on Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he would consider a sale before the 3 June hearing.

However, USA Today and ESPN reported Mrs Sterling wanted to retain some ownership of the team. It is unclear whether the NBA would allow this.

Last week, Mr Sterling said through his lawyer he would refuse to pay the fine and was considering suing the NBA.

Maxwell Blecher said his client had done nothing to deserve the NBA's punishment.

The league announced the ban and fine soon after an audio recording of Mr Sterling emerged in the US media in which he was heard asking a woman not to associate in public with black people nor to bring them to games.

Mr Silver said Mr Sterling's "hateful opinions... simply have no place in the NBA".

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