It’s difficult not to be impressed with Mat Ishbia’s passion — for life, for work, for everything he does. Here are my initial thoughts from the group presser, which is embedded below for you to watch and come to your own conclusions.
His energy is palpable. You can imagine he jumps out of bed in the morning, no matter how little sleep he’s gotten. He describes himself as not a micro manager, but really focuses on the “touch” If making personal connections with staff at all levels.
But I really wonder just how much hands-on he can do with the Phoenix Suns and Mercury considering he lives 2,000 miles away, running a highly successful mortgage lending company that already demanded all of his time and his dedication to being home to spend time with his kids as well.
You’d think he needs ‘boots on the ground’ or an ‘eyes and ears’ person from the get-go, to report back on the day to day culture on both sides — business and sports. But Ishbia does not plan to make any changes to the personnel on the sports side for the first few months, which means the rest of the current season.
But what about the business side? Jason Rowley submitted his resignation this week, and now the Suns have a transition on the business side, which is where he’s most comfortable anyway. But the biggest problems on the business side are culture and, again, how can you manage culture from 2,000 miles away.
Of course you guys and gals really care most about the sports side. What’s going to happen with the Phoenix Suns?
Well, after tomorrow, nothing you didn’t already expect. Rosters are fairly set as of Thursday afternoon, with the only potential changes coming in the way of buyouts and 10-day contracts. Certainly, nothing of the ‘improve on your contender’ variety.
That’s what makes the next 20 hours so important or, quite possibly, not so important.
“I’ll be here for 40 or 50 years,” Ishbia quipped, highlighting that he’s more interested in the medium and long term than the next 24 hours.
He thinks the Suns have a contender right now, even if there are no trades beyond moving on from Jae Crowder. Would be like to make a big splash? Of course he would. But he also knows he’s just showing up at the last second, and doesn’t have control yet over the whole process.
One thing is for sure, he’s not looking to make rash roster changes just to make a splash if they negatively impact the future.
“I’m not going to sacrifice short term for long term,” he said as part of response on the trade deadline.
When asked about adding to the luxury tax bill, Ishbia brushed it off, saying winning is the number one goal. Not profits.
We’ll see in the coming days and months if that’s true, but he made it clear he’s not spending $4 billion dollars to buy a franchise just to worry about the bottom line.
Watch the press conference here.
Coming tomorrow, I’ll have some exclusive thoughts from Mat out of my private one on one with him.