NBA approves sale of Phoenix Suns, Mercury to Mat Ishbia
Mortgage CEO and former Michigan State guard Mat Ishbia is the new majority owner of the Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, after the NBA’s board approved a plan to buy a controlling stake in the franchises. that trade from Robert Sarver.
The federation announced the approval on Monday night, saying the transaction would be completed by the end of this week. The vote was 29-0, with the Cleveland Cavaliers abstaining, an unnamed person told The Associated Press because the final decision has yet to be made public.
Ishbia agreed on December 20 to the deal, a deal that brings the combined value of the Sun and Mercury to US$4 billion. Ishbia and his brother Justin at the time said they would buy more than 50% of the franchise, including the entire stake in the struggling Sarver as well as some shares from minority partners.
Mat Ishbia will be the governor of the Suns, Justin Ishbia will be the governor instead. Now, they can take on those roles just days before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, and with the Suns standing squarely in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race.
There are tentative plans to introduce Mat Ishbia on Wednesday at a press conference in Phoenix.
No other acquisition in NBA history has been completed with a $4 billion valuation for the related franchise. Joe Tsai bought the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center for $3.3 billion in 2019, and Tilman Fertitta bought the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion in 2017.
The purchase was completed hours after Jason Rowley – the Suns president and chief executive officer – decided to leave the group in light of the leadership changes, a person familiar with the matter told the AP. The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because Rowley’s resignation was not shared outside of the organization, said Rowley’s departure was “shared internally” within the Suns organization on Monday.
Mat Ishbia is the president, chairman and chief executive officer of United Wholesale Mortgage, which claims to be the nation’s largest mortgage lender. He must successfully complete the NBA’s vetting process before the transaction can be finalized and then other owners of the league vote for or against the move.
Forbes recently listed his net worth at just over $5 billion. Ishbia’s company went public in January 2021 and is a rival to Quicken Loans — which has Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert as founder and chairman.
Ishbia competed at Michigan State under coach Tom Izzo and was a member of Sparta’s NCAA championship team in 2000.
The NBA suspended Sarver in September for a year, plus fined him $10 million, after an investigation found he engaged in what the league called “misconduct at the performance and shortcomings of the organization.”
The punishment comes nearly a year after the NBA asked a law firm to investigate allegations that Sarver had a history of racism, disregard for women and hate incidents during his nearly two-decade tenure as director. close to his franchise.
Soon after, Sarver announced that he would be looking to sell the Sun and Mercury. He bought the Suns in 2004 for $401 million, which at the time was an NBA record.
Ishbia has been mentioned before as a professional franchisee — NFL’s Washington Commanders, among them — and he’s a popular Michigan State sponsor.
Reynolds reporting from Miami