MIAMI — He is going to fight, then he's not going to fight.
He's going to sue, then he's not going to sue.
Now, Donald Sterling is going to fight and sue the NBA, Adam Silver and his wife Shelly Sterling.
Until he decides he's not going to do that. Which could be tomorrow, the day after or next week.
From the onset of the audio release of Sterling's racially insensitive comments, it's been repeated that Sterling is a fighter and embraces litigation.
SHELLY: Going to court Wednesday
STERLING: Plans to pursue NBA suit
PDF: Sterling's statement
His decision for now to fight the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion — a deal brokered by Shelly in a coup that appeared to be bring a quick resolution to an ugly situation — is just another trick play in Sterling's keep-'em-guessing legal playbook.
As confident and assured as Silver has been since the Sterling scandal threw the NBA into its biggest crisis since the Tim Donaghy officiating disgrace, the first-year NBA commissioner unintentionally may have provoked Sterling into another one of his never-ending last stands with comments Silver made to reporters Sunday.
Before Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Silver answered several questions about Sterling. Silver said he had "absolute confidence" Sterling's lawsuit against him and the NBA will be resolved.
"Donald is suing himself, and he knows that," Silver said. "While I understand he is frustrated, I think it's over. I think it's just a matter of time now."
He also reiterated that Sterling's lifetime ban will not be dropped and his $2.5 million fine will not be rescinded.
To Sterling, those are fightin' words, so the fight is back on. It gave him ammunition, and even if Sterling deep down knows he can't stop the sale, a couple of salvos on the way out isn't surprising.
"There's no particular method to the madness other than fighting for what he believes," sports law expert Warren K. Zola said.
GALLERY: Sterling through the years
On Wednesday, Shelly Sterling will ask a California probate court to verify she has authority to sell the team to Ballmer. She will claim that she has the right to sell the team because she was given sole authority of the trust when it was determined Donald Sterling does not have the capacity to manage the affairs of the trust.
Should Donald Sterling prevail and stop the voluntary sale of the Clippers, the NBA will reschedule its special hearing to terminate the Sterlings' ownership of the Clippers, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive nature of the situation.
Even though the Shelly Sterling's agreement with the NBA indemnified the league, Silver wants Sterling to drop the lawsuit and agree with his wife on the terms of the deal.
It is careening into the sideshow the NBA wanted to avoid and for the most part, thought it had avoided.
"Initially there was a communication from Donald Sterling's representatives that they intended to sign an agreement, but obviously I can't hold them to that," Silver said. "So, yes, it's the indemnification agreement but also discussions I have had with Shelly, where she has a high degree of confidence that this will be worked out between her and Donald."
In the big picture, what's most important to the NBA? That the Sterlings sell the Clippers, not the lifetime ban or the fine. That latter two ultimately are inconsequential to the NBA but important to Sterling on a matter of principle.
The fine is simple transaction for someone with Sterling's wealth and the ban ultimately is unnecessary. Sterling isn't welcome in any NBA arena, officially or unofficially.
Maybe Sterling believes he restores some of his reputation if the fine and ban are rescinded. Maybe he thought that happened when the NBA released a statement saying, "The NBA, Shelly Sterling and the Sterling Family Trust today resolved their dispute over the ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers."
But Silver said Sunday the ban and fine remain in place, and NBA spokesman Mike Bass reiterated that stance on Monday.
That won't change now. Silver and the NBA's attorneys won't do anything to jeopardize their case against Sterling. But if Sterling ever agrees to drop lawsuits and sign the required paperwork that would put the NBA in the clear, maybe the fine and ban will be forgotten.
The NBA still has a backup plan, too. While the league canceled the special hearing to terminate Sterling's ownership, nothing prevents Silver from rescheduling.
In the best-case scenario, Silver wants the Sterlings to sell the team on their own without a forced sale. But he will go that route if necessary.
Sterling is trying to drag this out, but Zola is skeptical Sterling will win — outside of selling a team he bought for 12.5 million the early 1980s for $2 billion.
Zola repeatedly has said the courts are not inclined to get involved with the operations of private businesses governed by a constitution and bylaws determined by the key operators.
From the day Silver announced he wanted the Sterlings to sell the team, signs have pointed in the NBA's favor.
"I'm dubious of the outcome because Sterling's claim is no stronger today than it was two weeks ago," Zola said.
So in the meantime, Sterling fights. Until he doesn't.