NBA expected to approve billionaire Mat Ishbia as new Phoenix Suns owner before trade deadline

Duane Rankin
Arizona Republic
View Comments
Mat Ishbia watches the Suns take on the Pacers during a game at Footprint Center in Phoenix on Jan. 21, 2023. Ishbia is waiting on NBA approval to officially become the new team owner.

The NBA is expected to approve billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia as the new owner of the Phoenix Suns franchise before the Feb. 9 trade deadline, sources inform The Republic.

"I got chance to meet him for first time, briefly,” Suns coach Monty Williams said last week about Ishbia. “It was short, but everything that I’ve heard about Mat and his family and the way he runs his business has been pretty cool to hear all that. Getting a chance to talk to him (Friday) was something that I had been looking forward to, but I’m sure our fans can finally say, hey, that’s our guy and move forward.”

The news is significant because the Suns haven’t made any trades so far this season. Interim team governor Sam Garvin, a minority owner, can't make a major move without the approval of majority owner Robert Sarver.

Sarver is serving a suspension that prohibits involvement with the team but he still has a say on major financial decisions.

Ishbia agreed in principle to buy the Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury for $4 billion from Sarver on Dec. 20. It typically takes two months for the league to approve a team owner as background checks and financial checks are conducted.

More:Who is Mat Ishbia? Meet the Phoenix Suns' new majority owner

The Suns have been trying to move Jae Crowder, who hasn’t played a game season as he and the Suns “mutually agreed” he wouldn’t attend training camp.

The Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks have been teams showing interest in the veteran forward.

Ishbia, 43, attended Phoenix’s back-to-back games against Indiana and Memphis last weekend. The Suns (25-24) won both games. s.

More:Billionaire Mat Ishbia makes strong first impression attending first Phoenix Suns game

"Let's just say if I was an owner," said Suns guard Damion Lee, who played his previous four seasons at Golden State under Warriors team governor, Joe Lacob. "Being personable. Obviously being around, being involved. We all know what comes with being an owner is the financial side of things. Being willing to make those moves and whatever comes with that. Signing guys in the offseason."

Sarver chose to sell the team in September amid the backlash of criticism over his punishment by the NBA. The league suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million for "workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies'' found during a 10-month investigation.

Ishbia and Sarver hadn’t previously connected before the two were introduced regarding the sale of the team.

From Michigan, Ishbia played for the 2000 Michigan State national championship team.

Forbes lists Ishbia's net worth at $5.1 billion, which ranks No. 505 in the world, according to the site. He is the chairman and CEO of mortgage lender United Wholesale Mortgage, of which he owns a 71% stake, according to Forbes. The company, based in Michigan, now is called UWM Holdings.

More:Phoenix Suns team owner Robert Sarver suspended for 1 year, fined $10M after NBA investigation

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

Support local journalism. Start your online subscription.

View Comments