Mat Ishbia isn’t officially the new owner of the Suns yet, but his presence at courtside for Thursday’s game reinforced the idea that a new era is starting in Phoenix, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. It was the first time the billionaire mortgage lender has attended a game since reaching an agreement to purchase the team last month, and the players were happy to have him there.
“He’s a cool guy,” Ish Wainright said. “I look forward to meeting him, picking his brain about not just basketball, but about business. I want to get to know him.”
Ishbia is still awaiting league approval on his $4 billion purchase, a process that Rankin notes typically takes about two months. Once the sale is official, the franchise can move on from current owner Robert Sarver, who was pressured to sell the team after being suspended for a year and fined $10MM for creating a toxic work environment. Coach Monty Williams believes Sarver shouldn’t be judged too harshly for his actions.
“Robert did a lot for this team, he did a lot for this city, he did a lot behind the scenes that people will never know about,” Williams said. “It was an unfortunate ending … but now as we turn the page, you start to look forward to what can be with the team with new ownership.”
There’s more from Phoenix:
- Saben Lee is thrilled to get a second 10-day contract, Rankin tweets. Although Lee saw consistent playing time in his first four games with the Suns, averaging 11.3 points, 3.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per night, he didn’t take a second deal for granted. “When you expect things in this league, it usually doesn’t go the way you want it to,” Lee said.
- Cameron Johnson, who played 22 minutes Thursday in his return to action following meniscus surgery on his right knee, will sit out Saturday’s game due to injury management, tweets Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports.
- Josh Okogie, who suffered a broken nose Monday when Deandre Ayton accidentally elbowed him in the face, will be able to play Saturday night after clearing his final concussion evaluation, according to Bourguet (Twitter link).