Suspended Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has known to be a meddler. Such meddling nearly squashed a three-way deal last summer that netted the Phoenix Suns prized guard Eric Bledsoe, and the reasoning behind it may align with the racially-spewing recorded on the audio tape that has Sterling in such a complicated scandal.
One player involved in that summer deal, J.J. Redick, told USA Today’s Sam Amick that Sterling didn’t want to give Redick a four-year, $27 million contract because of his race.
The Suns had agreed to send Jared Dudley to the Clippers and second-round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks while receiving Bledsoe and veteran Caron Butler’s expiring contract. The Bucks would then sign and trade Redick, giving Los Angeles two older wing players to stretch the floor around Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
But it almost didn’t go through, either because of Redick’s race or Sterling’s general stinginess.
“I’ve been told both ways: one, that he didn’t want to pay me because I was white, and that he didn’t want to pay me because I was a bench player,” Redick said. “I didn’t know (the deal almost fell apart) until after the fact. I just got a weird phone call from Doc on July 4, and I got off the phone and said to my wife, ‘Something’s going on.’ He’s like, ‘You better play for me (expletive).’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the plan. We figured this out two days ago, right?’
“And then he just rambled a bit. … but he never really got into the nuts and bolts of what was happening. And then I got a call about 48 hours later from my agent, and he said, ‘We wanted to keep you out of it, but here’s what happened.’”
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski was first to detail the deal that almost didn’t go through, but the language in that account from October was unsurprisingly about Sterling’s illogic — or more logically, his fondness for Bledsoe.
Redick’s openness about the process of becoming a Clipper only supported Wojnarowski’s more recent piece from a week ago:
… Sterling didn’t want to so easily part with Eric Bledsoe, despite (Doc) Rivers telling him they could never afford to pay Bledsoe in restricted free agency next summer. That was part of it, yes, but those who knew Sterling – who had history with him – believed largely that his disdain for paying $7 million per year for a white player caused him pause.
And this is why the NBA’s advisory and finance committee, including member and Suns owner Robert Sarver, is planning to oust Sterling from his ownership of the Clippers.
They don’t want to work with a man who thinks like that, or one who operates so randomly and recklessly within his employees’ work.