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Phoenix Suns Get New Owner in Record Sale

December 28, 2022
by Christian.R.B
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OKBET Phoenix Suns

NBA fans knew that controversial owner Robert Sarver would sell the Phoenix Suns. He was forced out of the league due to racist and misogynist comments he made earlier in the year. Sarver was also a polarizing figure in Phoenix, so his sale of the team generally drew positive reactions.

However, only a few thought the deal would be done before the year ended after Sarver announced his intentions to sell the team on September 21.

OKBET’s basketball analysis team and circles of NBA fans were caught off-guard when Sarver announced he would sell his majority stakes in the Suns and the WNBA’s Mercury to new team owner Mat Ishbia for a record $4 billion.

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The Sun Rises on Ishbia

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Adam Silver and the rest of the league office highly regard Ishbia. He has also built positive connections with other team owners, which should serve well in the upcoming background checks and a vote of approval from the board of governors.

Ishbia is a billionaire who built his $5.1 billion net worth on his mortgage lender United Wholesale Mortgage. He’ll become the youngest owner in the league at 42 once the sale goes through. He lives in Bloomfields, Michigan, and has been looking for an NBA or NFL team to invest in.

The mortgage billionaire graduated from Michigan State University and was a walk-on in Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo’s Spartan teams at the turn of the century. He averaged 0.6 PPG, 0.3 RPG, and 0.3 APG in his three years with the Spartans. His recent $32 million donation to the Spartans’ basketball program shows his continuous connection with his former team.

Reports say Ishbia will acquire more than 50% of the two Phoenix ball clubs and a portion of the stake from minority owners. Justin Ishbia, Mat’s brother and a founding partner in Shore Capital, will also serve as an alternate governor after investing money into the team.

Are NBA Teams Becoming Too Expensive?

The value of the Phoenix Suns at the time of the sale raised more than a couple of eyebrows. The deal marks a new high in franchise sales over the past ten years, with Joe Tsai’s 2019 purchase of the Brooklyn Nets costing him $2.3 billion.

The final price tag may have been inadvertently set by Ishbia, who has been looking to own an NBA or NFL team. His eagerness to own an NBA team may have pushed him to make a bid Sarver can’t refuse.

Competition probably drove up the price, though. Thiel Capital managing director Jack Selby—alongside Shasta Ventures managing director Jason Pressman—made a $3 billion bid to buy both the Suns and the Mercury. Ishbia likely submitted his $4 billion bid to push the two into bowing out of purchasing the team.

Ishbia’s purchase of the team will drive the prices of NBA franchises up for future purchases. The Suns will become the fourth-most valuable NBA team, pushing the price of NBA franchises upward of their $2.3 billion value in 2021.

However, only some teams can demand such a high price tag from prospective owners. The Suns were desirable as an asset due to the collection of talent tied down to the team. Their status as contenders for the NBA Championship also boosted their value.

What Does This Mean for the Phoenix Suns?

The purchase offers a unique opportunity for the Suns and their championship window. Before the sale, some thought their current championship window would depend on whether Paul could continue to perform at a high level.

However, a willing owner who wants to win with his new franchise will be glad to pay a colossal luxury tax if it means they will get the championship. Ishbia’s connection to the game will give the Suns an exciting opportunity to get deep into the luxury tax limits.

Suns fans can look at the current luxury tax situation for their team’s future. Recently acquired teams make up two of the top five teams paying exuberant luxury tax penalties. Steve Ballmer purchased the LA Clippers in 2014, and they’re currently paying $144.7 million in luxury tax. Joe Tsai held the NBA record for the most expensive purchase when he bought the Brooklyn Nets for $2.35 billion in 2019. His team has a luxury tax bill amounting to $90.6 million for the coming season.

The Suns could become more carefree with their signings if Ishbia doesn’t mind paying substantial luxury tax punishments. This will allow them to upgrade their team and attempt to make another run to the Finals in the coming years.

These are exciting times for Phoenix Suns fans. They hope their new owner will be willing to do everything to finally bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy to the Valley.

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