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Woj: Mat Ishbia's Purchase of Suns Expected to Be Official Before Trade Deadline

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 25, 2023

Incoming Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia claps as the 1993 Suns team is introduced during halftime of ah NBA basketball game between the Suns and the Indiana Pacers in Phoenix, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
AP Photo/Darryl Webb

The Phoenix Suns could have a new governor in place before the NBA's trade deadline passes on Feb. 9.

ESPN's Baxter Holmes and Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that Mat Ishbia is expected to assume control within the next two weeks.

In December, Ishbia reached a deal to purchase the Suns and WNBA's Phoenix Mercury from Robert Sarver for $4 billion. Until the transaction goes through, though, the Suns remain in a state of limbo.

The NBA suspended Sarver for one year following an investigation into Phoenix's workplace culture. As part of his punishment, the 61-year-old is prohibited from having any direct involvement in business or basketball operations.

However, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Sarver "still has to give personal sign-off on any deal for a player with a salary that is more than the current 'average player salary.'"

That's notable because Phoenix has unsuccessfully shopped Jae Crowder around the NBA ahead of the deadline.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported Monday the Suns were working toward a three-team deal involving the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks. As part of the swap, they would've received Rui Hachimura from Washington, with Crowder heading to Milwaukee.

The Wizards ultimately completed a straight-up trade with the Lakers centered around Hachimura.

As it related to the hypothetical Crowder trades, Windhorst wrote that "all likely have to end up on Sarver's desk." Even if the Phoenix/Washington/Milwaukee three-teamer had advanced to the final stages, Sarver may have needed to sign off.

There's nothing to indicate he has gone so far as to veto a trade since his suspension. But president of basketball operations James Jones might rest easier if Sarver no longer presents a hurdle in the process.