Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends the NBA basketball game between the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, on Dec. 22, 2008.
May 16, 2014 3:24 AM EDT

Sports Illustrated is reporting that L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is poised to unleash renowned antitrust litigator Maxwell Blecher in order to avoid being reprimanded by the NBA.

The 80-year-old property tycoon has been slapped with a $2.5 million fine and ordered to sell the team — eliminated from the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday — after his racist rant was leaked to the media.

Sources told SI.com that Blecher filed a letter on Sterling’s behalf to NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan. The missive denies any wrongdoing, argues “no punishment is warranted” and warns that the controversy “will be adjudicated,” suggesting a lengthy legal battle could lie ahead.

“We reject your demand for payment,” the letter tells Buchanan, basing its assertions on two key points: first, that Sterling has not violated any article of the NBA constitution, and second, that his “due-process rights” have not been met.

Read more from the Sports Illustrated story here.

Write to Charlie Campbell at charlie.campbell@time.com.

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