There wasn’t a ton of trade chatter at the G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas this past week, but the news of the Suns‘ sale to Mat Ishbia generated plenty of discussion, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Specifically, the franchise’s $4 billion valuation raised eyebrows, given how far above recent projections it was.
As Hollinger explains, that eye-popping sale price led to speculation on two fronts. For one, there were conversations about whether other franchises could find their way onto the market — for instance, Paul Allen‘s estate appears content to exercise patience before eventually opening the bidding on the Trail Blazers, but it’s possible the Suns’ valuation could help expedite that process. Hollinger adds that there have also been whispers over the years about whether Michael Jordan will sell the Hornets.
Perhaps more importantly, the Suns’ high sale price could be good news for the prospect of NBA expansion. As Hollinger observes, the existing 30 team owners are more likely to agree to bring in two new partners if their cut of the expansion fee high enough to offset their losses from splitting the NBA’s TV deal and other sources of revenue 32 ways instead of 30 ways. The Suns selling for $4 billion increases the odds of expansion fees for teams in cities like Seattle and Las Vegas reaching the neighborhood of $4-5 billion, says Hollinger.
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- Former NBA lottery pick Ekpe Udoh is resuming his playing career in Japan, according to Alessandro Maggi of Sportando, who relays that the big man has signed with the Shimane Susanoo Magic. The No. 6 overall pick in the 2010 draft, Udoh appeared in 384 total NBA games, but hasn’t played in the league since the 2018/19 season.
- Scoot Henderson wasn’t available for the G League Ignite during the league’s Winter Showcase event in Las Vegas this past week, but Jeremy Woo of SI.com got a chance to scout several other Ignite players, including London Johnson, Leonard Miller, Sidy Cissoko, and Mojave King. Woo shares several of his key takeaways on the Ignite’s non-Henderson prospects, identifying Miller and Cissoko as players who have a chance to be selected in the first round of the 2023 NBA draft (Johnson will be draft-eligible in 2024).
- Veteran NBA executive Mark Warkentien, who won an Executive of the Year award in 2009 as the Nuggets‘ head of basketball operations, has passed away at age 69 (Twitter link via the Nuggets). Warkentien most recently worked in the league as a special assignment evaluator for the Thunder. We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to his family and friends.