Billionaire mortgage lender Matt Ishbia bought a majority stake in the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury With a price tag of $4 billion expected to be announced in the next two weeks, Ishbia will be controlled before the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline, team and league sources told ESPN.

The NBA’s board of governors is expected to vote to approve the Ishbia acquisition in early February, sources said.

Although the league suspended former Suns majority owner Robert Sarver in September following a 10-month NBA investigation into his ownership, it retains the authority to sign, acquire and trade any player whose salary exceeds the league-wide average player salary. sources said.

The current average player salary is $10.8 million, making him the highest paid player. J CrowderThe $10.2 million the team didn’t get a deal on.

By the Feb. 9 trade deadline, Eshbia will become the team’s official owner, paving the way for him to control the team’s dealings with the front office. Ishbia is eager to begin his involvement in basketball operations and is expected to be an involved owner in team-building matters, sources said.

Eshbia agreed on Dec. 20 to buy a controlling stake in both groups, ending Sarver’s two-decade ownership tenure, a position Sarver led when he bought the Suns in 2004 for a then-record $401 million. Ishbia’s team includes his brother Justin, a founding partner of Shore Capital Private Equity.

The deal gives Ishbia more than 50% ownership of the group, which includes Sarver’s stake and minority partners’ stake. During the sale process, the NBA conducts criminal, financial and background checks on the proposed owners. Prospective buyers must also meet with the league’s Advisory and Finance Committee — a group of about 10 owners — and be approved by a three-quarters vote of the NBA’s 29 other owners.

Ishbia, president and CEO of Michigan-based United Wholesale Loans, has pursued NBA and NFL teams in recent years to reach a deal to own the Suns. He was a walk-on for Michigan State and part of the Spartans’ 2000 national championship team. He remains close to Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo, and has previously donated $32 million to the basketball program.

On Friday, Ishbia attended the Suns’ first home game since agreeing to buy a controlling stake in the team, as the team beat the Brooklyn Nets at the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix.

“I think it’s good for the team, the organization and the community to have someone like Matt,” Suns coach Monty Williams told reporters.

Williams told reporters he had met Ishbia.

“It was short, but everything I heard about Matt and his family and the way he runs the business, it was great to hear all that,” Williams said. “Getting a chance to talk to him [Friday] It was something I was looking forward to, but I’m sure our fans can finally say, “Hey, that’s our guy and move on.”

An ESPN story led by Wachtel Lipton on the NBA’s investigation into New York detailed allegations of racism and sexism during Sarver’s 17 years as owner in November 2021.

Sarver was fined $10 million and suspended for one year as part of the league’s punishment, announced on Sept. 13, even as the increasingly angry Sun and Mercury announced they would be sold.

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