Mat Ishbia’s purchase of Phoenix Suns approved by NBA vote

Feb 6, 2023, 7:25 PM | Updated: Feb 7, 2023, 8:57 am
Incoming Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia is seen with his family during the game against the Indiana ...
Incoming Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia is seen with his family during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Footprint Center on January 21, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Mat Ishbia’s transaction for the purchase of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury has been approved by the NBA, the league confirmed Monday. Its statement says the transaction is expected to close this week.

Yahoo! Sports’ Vincent Goodwill and The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported the news.

Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reports Ishbia and his brother, Justin, will own 57% of the team for the payment that values the Suns at $4 billion and that it should close by the end of business on Tuesday. Three minority owners from the current ownership group of the team, including Jahm Najafi, will not be selling any of their shares. Many of the remaining partners, however, are selling 25% of their stakes, which will triple their initial investments. Only one minority owner has sold the entirety of their stake.

Outgoing owner Robert Sarver’s stake is 37% and puts the payment for his chunk at roughly $1.5 billion.

The timing of the move is critical, as the NBA’s trade deadline is on Thursday. A deal for the Suns could shift their luxury tax bill, and Mat Ishbia signing off on a larger payment would give Phoenix more possibilities in potential acquisitions.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Ishbia is “eager to start his involvement with basketball operations and is expected to be a hands-on owner in matters of team building” and Charania noted Phoenix was telling other teams it was willing to trade first-round picks and take on long-term salary since Ishbia’s purchase was agreed upon in late December.

The $4 billion sale is the largest purchase in NBA history. Joe Tsai bought the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center for $3.3 billion in 2019, and Tilman Fertitta purchased the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion in 2017.

Ishbia will also serve as the team governor while his brother will be the alternate governor.

Mat Ishbia, 43, is chairman and CEO of mortgage lender United Wholesale Mortgage, based in Michigan. His net worth is $5.1 billion this year, according to

Justin Ishbia, who according to Forbes has a net worth of $2.2 billion, is a founding partner of private equity firm Shore Capital. He is also an investor in United Wholesale Mortgage, founded by the brothers’ father, Jeff.

Mat Ishbia won the national title with Michigan State in 2000. He played with former Suns guard Jason Richardson there in 1999-2001.

Sarver, who bought the Suns for $401 million from Jerry Colangelo in 2004, announced in September that he will sell the organization, citing it is “what’s best” after the NBA suspended him and fined him on findings of workplace behavior that included racist language, misogyny and bullying.

Sarver said that he first expected to reflect and self-improve himself during a one-year suspension from the team, but the “unforgiving climate” made it clear a return will not allow for the teams to move forward.

The NBA in September suspended Sarver one year and fined him the maximum $10 million after concluding an investigation into allegations he used racist and misogynistic language in the workplace.

PayPal took the notable step of announcing it would not renew its partnership with the Suns — it owns ad space on the team jersey — if Sarver were to return.

Interviewing 320 individuals and evaluating more than 80,000 documents, the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz concluded in an investigation that Sarver “clearly violated common workplace standards” including “use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees, sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”

Wachtell, Lipton Rosen & Katz said that the “investigation makes no finding that Sarver’s conduct was motivated by racial or gender-based animus.”

The full report by Wachtell, Lipton Rosen & Katz can be viewed here.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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