New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Los Angeles Clippers president Andy Roeser will begin an indefinite leave of absence immediately, clearing another path to the NBA's plan to take temporary control of the team in the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal.
The removal of Roeser, the Clippers' president since 1986 and a longtime confidant of Sterling, will allow the league to appoint a new CEO to assume day-to-day operations of the franchise. The NBA had announced its intention to do just that on Saturday.
"This will provide an opportunity for a new CEO to begin on a clean slate and for the team to stabilize under difficult circumstances," said NBA executive vice president of communications Mike Bass in a statement.
The decision also potentially prevents a scenario where Sterling, who was handed a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine by NBA commissioner Adam Silver last week for racially charged comments the embattled Clippers owner made to his girlfriend that were made public, remains involved in team operations through Roeser.
Silver also urged the league's Board of Governors to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, and emphatically declared during his press conference announcing the punishment that he will be able to obtain the necessary votes to oust him.
Roeser, one of the Clippers' alternate governors as well, had been in charge of the team following Sterling's forced exile.
He also drew significant criticism for issuing a press release after Sterling's comments came to light. In the statement, Roeser questioned the authenticity of the audio tape as well as the motives of Sterling's girlfriend, V. Stiviano, stating that the woman is being sued by the Sterling family over allegations she embezzled over $1.8 million from them.
The firestorm surrounding the franchise has yet to negatively impact the Clippers on the court. After winning a hard-fought seven-game series with the Golden State Warriors in opening round of the playoffs, Los Angeles rolled to a 122-105 road victory over Oklahoma City in Monday's Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.