NBA board approves sale of Suns, Mercury to Mat Ishbia

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The sale of the Sun and the WNBA’s Mercury has been approved by the NBA board.

The NBA board of governors has approved the sale of the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Mercury to billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia, the NBA announced Monday night.

The transaction is expected to close Tuesday, sources told the media.

Ishbia was approved as the Suns’ new governor by a 29-0 vote, league sources said, with the Cleveland Cavaliers abstaining from the vote.

The Cavaliers are owned by Dan Gilbert, who runs Rocket Mortgage. Ishbia owns United Wholesale Mortgage. The two companies are considered the top two largest mortgage lenders in America and have a fierce rivalry.

Ishbia is buying a 57% controlling stake for $2.28 billion, sources said, with Robert Sarver selling his 37% stake for $1.48 billion. Even after taxes, Sarver is expected to clear nearly double the amount that he and a group paid for the team in 2004 — then a record $401 million from former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo.

Of the Suns’ nearly 20-member ownership group under Sarver, there are only four minority partners who are retaining their full stake in the team, with their shares comprising nearly a quarter of the team. The rest of the ownership group sold 25% of their shares at the $4 billion valuation, the maximum amount allowed under the terms of the sale.

Ishbia’s approval comes as he is slated to be introduced by the Suns as early as Wednesday in Phoenix, sources said.

Sarver sold the team and the Phoenix Mercury in the wake of a 10-month NBA investigation into his conduct as owner. That investigation came after a 2021 media report that centered on Sarver’s conduct during his tenure as majority owner, which began in 2004.

Ishbia ascends to his post as Thursday’s NBA trade deadline nears, with the Suns expected to be aggressive in helping upgrade a roster that reached the NBA Finals in 2021 and posted the NBA’s best regular-season record in 2021-22 before falling in the second round to the Dallas Mavericks.

 

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