It’s hard to say where owner Robert Sarver’s road to selling the Phoenix Suns and Mercury will lead, or how long it will take.
He announced Wednesday that he was looking for a franchise buyer after a week of pressure from the NBA to do more than suspend Sarver for the year. It did so following the publication of the results of an investigation into his behaviour, language and treatment of others in the workplace.
Public pressure from NBA stars like LeBron James, Chris Paul and Draymond Green and a threat from Suns sponsor PayPal were key moments that led to Sarver finally deciding to sell before training camp opens next week.
“He was going to take a lot of extra heat from the players when the players were talking,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Thursday.
The Suns’ trade mark is expected to draw a lot of interest, but it’s important to note that Sarver — despite his suspension — retains control over who ultimately buys the team.
While Forbes valued the Suns at $1.8 billion last season — Sarver bought the team for $401 million in 2004 — the sale price could be much higher.
“I think it blows it out of the water,” Windhorst said. “I think it’s well over $2 billion. I think you have multiple bidders.
“I think it’s going to be a very hot asset. A lot of owners, they live on the coast and they want to get into their team.
Windhorst’s ESPN colleague Ramona Shelburne believes the Suns could be sold for as much as $3-4 billion.
Between them, a couple of very rich people have emerged as potential buyers.
you go to a third party, do you have to offer to insiders or do they have the right to match the third party offer in the contract. When Jerry Colangelo sold the team to Robert, there was no professional broker, but many sales now use a broker to maximize value/auction settings.
— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) September 21, 2022
While not hard-hitting reports, the names indicate the expected potential for the historical purchase price of NBA and WNBA franchises.
Shelburne and Windhorst threw some names out there in the last 24 hours:
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: Yes, according to Forbes, the second richest man in the world ($171 billion).
Bob Iger, former CEO of the Walt Disney Company: As we know from the relationship between ESPN and the NBA, not to mention Disney World’s handling of the bubble during the pandemic, there is a strong connection between the league and Iger’s former company. But also: There’s a friendship between Iger and Suns guard Chris Paul, and that’s where Iger’s name makes the most sense of those names.
Oracle Chairman and Co-Founder Larry Ellison: He thought he was going to buy the Golden State Warriors in 2010 before current owner Joe Lacob took it down and got it for less. Ellison is among the 10 richest people in the world, with a net worth of $106 billion, according to Forbes.
Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and principal of Emerson Collective: Widow of Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, she has a 20% stake in the ownership group of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals.