Source: Geffen eyes control of Clippers

Updated: June 8, 2010, 8:22 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Would LeBron James be willing to play for the Los Angeles Clippers if Donald Sterling no longer owned the team? Billionaire entertainment mogul David Geffen wants to find out.

A source close to the situation confirmed a New York Post report that Geffen is interested in purchasing a majority share of the Clippers -- and that the long-shot attempt to convince Sterling to cede operating control of the team is among the reasons James and close friend Maverick Carter were in Los Angeles over the weekend.

[+] EnlargeDavid Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tom Cruise
Noel Vasquez/Getty ImageDavid Geffen, left, took in Game 2 of the NBA Finals at the Staples Center with Jeffrey Katzenberg, center, and Tom Cruise.

Sterling has insisted for nearly three decades that he will never sell the franchise. But the New York Post reported in Tuesday's editions that Geffen -- who already has a working relationship with James and Carter -- has expressed interest in buying a 51 percent stake in the Clippers.

James was invited to watch Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center in Geffen's seats, sources confirmed, but he ultimately elected not to attend Boston's eventual 103-94 victory, fearful of the spectacle his courtside presence would create at a time when James' impending free agency has routinely drawn media attention away from the playoffs.

Yet Carter, who handles the bulk of James' business dealings, was seen at the game with Geffen.

"Mr. Sterling has never expressed a desire to sell any part of his team," Clippers president Andy Roeser told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. "Because it is an asset of remarkable value, it's true that there have been countless inquiries over the years. But the Clippers have never been for sale."

The Clippers, to this point, have not been seriously mentioned along with teams such as Chicago, New York and New Jersey as a viable threat to lure James away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency. That's despite the fact that the Clippers can offer him a promising group of potential sidekicks -- led by All-Star center Chris Kaman, forward Blake Griffin and guards Eric Gordon and Baron Davis -- as well as proximity to the many off-court business opportunities that only Hollywood can provide.

The [New York] Post reported that Geffen has been chasing the Clippers "for quite some time" and told Sterling at a dinner last Friday that "he can deliver LeBron as long as he's calling the shots."

But the reason the Clippers have not been mentioned as a serious suitor is no mystery. Sources say that the Clippers won't factor into James' thinking as long as they continue to be run by Sterling, whose increased willingness to spend over the past decade has done little to change his reputation as one of the league's worst owners.

Geffen, by contrast, is another wildly successful businessman who, like investor Warren Buffett, appears to have quickly secured James' respect. As a record executive, film and theatrical producer and one of three co-founders of DreamWorks Studios, Geffen has a net worth estimated at $4.6 billion by Forbes Magazine.

The Post reported that Geffen has been chasing the Clippers "for quite some time" and told Sterling at a dinner last Friday that "he can deliver LeBron as long as he's calling the shots."

Sterling, however, has not only resisted any attempt to purchase the team but declined repeated invitations from cities such as Anaheim to move the franchise out of Los Angeles and away from the Lakers' considerable shadow.

The Times also confirmed Geffen's interest in buying into the Clippers, quoting "multiple sources" on its website Tuesday, but said that "not all sources" put the stake Geffen covets at 51 percent.

Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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