N.B.A. Owners Approve Mat Ishbia’s Purchase of Suns and Mercury
The N.B.A.’s board of governors on Monday approved the sale of the Phoenix Suns and the W.N.B.A.’s Mercury to Mat Ishbia, the chief executive of United Wholesale Mortgage, in a deal that valued the teams at $4 billion.
In a statement, the N.B.A. said the transaction was expected to close this week. Ishbia, 43, announced in December that he had agreed to buy the teams from Robert Sarver, who had been pushed to sell the team amid a scandal.
The vote was 29-0, with the Cleveland Cavaliers abstaining, according to a memo sent to the N.B.A. teams that was obtained by The New York Times. The Cavaliers are owned by Dan Gilbert, who founded Ishbia’s mortgage industry rival, Rocket Mortgage.
The sale, to an ownership group led by Ishbia, is for a stake greater than 50 percent, according to the December announcement. He said his brother Justin Ishbia would be a major investor.
The teams’ leadership has been in limbo since September, when N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million after an investigation found that Sarver had mistreated employees — particularly women — over many years. He was also found to have used a racial slur for Black people several times. Sarver was not forced to sell the teams, but he said that he would do so because of a swell of backlash, including from the star Suns guard Chris Paul.
Mat Ishbia, in a statement in December, said that basketball “is at the core of my life” and that owning the teams was a “dream come true for my entire family.” He played basketball at Michigan State in the early 2000s.
The N.B.A.’s trading deadline is Thursday, and the Suns could be looking to make moves. In September, the team announced that it had “mutually agreed” with forward Jae Crowder that he would not participate in training camp and he has not appeared in any games this season. The Suns (29-26) were fifth in the Western Conference entering Monday night’s games.
The Suns have never won an N.B.A. championship, though they appeared in the 2021 finals, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Mercury have won three W.N.B.A. championships; they, too, last appeared in their league’s finals in 2021, but they lost to the Chicago Sky.
Ishbia, who became a billionaire after entering the mortgage business, said in December that he was “confident that we can bring that same level of success” to the Suns and the Mercury.