The Phoenix Suns will have a new owner for the first time in nearly two decades, after Robert Sarver announced Wednesday his intention to put the franchise up for sale.
Sarver came under fire for a number of incidents, highlighted in an ESPN investigation last November, that included racially insensitive and misogynistic comments and creating a hostile workplace environment.
The NBA issued a yearlong suspension and levied a $10 million fine last week. Fans in Phoenix and around the country, as well as many involved in Arizona sports betting, kept a close ear to the outcry.
Sarver, a Tucson native, bought the franchise from Valley stalwart Jerry Colangelo for a then-NBA record $401 million in 2004.
Clearly, Sarver got a hefty return on his investment, as the franchise was valued at $1.8 billion by Forbes in 2021.
So, who will be the next owner of the Suns?
BetArizona.com considered possible new owners and developed hypothetical odds for each.
Here’s a look at who could become the fourth owner of the Suns, dating back to the franchise entering the NBA in 1968.
Odds to Replace Robert Sarver
Why Jahm Najafi Has the No. 1 Spot
It is safe to say that Najafi has the chops to become the first Iranian-American to own a professional sports team, with a net worth of $3.5 billion and a position inside the Suns’ current ownership group.
Najafi is the leading minority shareholder in the franchise and called for Sarver to sell the team earlier this month.
Najafi would be a natural fit to follow Karl Eller, Colangelo, and Sarver as owner of the Suns, as he has deep roots to the Phoenix area and a natural commitment to building on the success of the franchise over the past few years.
It is logical to consider Najafi would want to be the man in charge for a team in the mix in Arizona NBA betting for the league title.
Garcia Family Would Be Strong Bidders
It seems logical to assume that the next owner of Arizona’s NBA franchise should have a strong connection to the Grand Canyon State.
That’s why it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a celebrity with deep ties to the Valley, such as the state’s wealthiest family, taking over for Sarver.
The Garciafamily (Ernest Garcia Jr. and Ernest Garcia III) has a net wealth that’s pegged at more than $8 billion, per Forbes. They have called the Phoenix area home for a long time, which gives them merit as a possible owner of the Suns.
It would be a crowning achievement, literally, for anyone to be the owner if and when the Suns land their first NBA title.
BetMGM Arizona currently has the Suns at +1000 to win the NBA title, behind only the Boston Celtics (+500), defending champion Golden State Warriors (+600), Milwaukee Bucks (+650), Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers (both +700).
Meanwhile, Caesars Arizona also lists the Suns at +1000.
Who Else Could Go for Ownership?
Another name to keep an eye on is entrepreneur Byron Allen, who missed out on becoming the first Black NFL owner when his bid to buy the Denver Broncos was turned down in favor of Rob Walton’s offer of $4.65 billion.
Allen could well emerge as a realistic pursuer of the Suns, with deep business connections and a reported net worth of around $500 million to match his desire to become a professional sports team owner.
Other than that, look for Valley sports mainstays, such as former Cardinals wideout and Suns shareholder Larry Fitzgerald Jr. and Suns legend Charles Barkley, to perhaps be the wealthy public face of a joint ownership group.
Other Phoenix personalities who should hear their names called when it comes to the Suns are longtime rock and roll personality Alice Cooper and six-time PGA major winner and Arizona State University alum Phil Mickelson. Or Guy Fieri, who is based in California but is a noted fan of the Suns.
For now, the only certainty surrounding the Suns is that there will be a new person in charge of the franchise for the first time in 18 years.
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