New owner of the Phoenix Suns, Mat Ishbia, was recently given complete control of the team after buying both the Suns and WNBA's Mercury from Robert Sarver. The timing couldn't be more ideal for the Suns, with just two days to go before the trade deadline, allowing the new team owner to be involved in the process. Though the Suns haven't made any moves yet, there's one rumor that's been circulating about a potential front office hire.
According to Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes, Ishbia plans on bringing in Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas to have a "prominent role" in the front office. But a spokesperson for Ishbia has refuted that initial report, saying "Thomas won't have a position in the team's front office, and isn't part of the team transition," per the Arizona Republic's Duane Rankin.
Ishbia and Thomas have a prior friendship that extends to the business world, with Thomas saying of the new Suns owner back in 2021, "He and I are very close, and also he's one who advised me in the business space," Thomas said. "I've called on him quite frequently in the past to help me navigate some of our growing pains and likewise, so we have shared advice with each other. We've become very good friends."
While there's conflicting reports surrounding this situation, if Thomas were brought in, It's unclear exactly what role he would serve in the front office.
The last time Thomas worked in the front office for an NBA team was 2008 with the New York Knicks as team president, a tenure that included a sexual harassment lawsuit against Thomas and Madison Square Garden, the parent company that owns the Knicks. In 2007 a jury awarded former Knicks executive, Anucha Browne Sanders, $11.6 million in punitive damages stemming from the sexual harassment lawsuit. Knicks team owner James Dolan and Madison Square Garden were responsible for paying the settlement, while Thomas was not found personally liable.
Thomas was replaced by Donnie Walsh as team president in 2008, and by that time he had been the Knicks head coach from 2006-2008. He was ultimately fired following the 2007-08 season, finishing with a combined record of 56-108.
After that, Thomas became the men's basketball head coach at FIU, where he compiled a 26-65 record in three seasons before being fired in 2012. He then became the president of the WNBA's New York Liberty in 2015, a tenure that lasted until 2019 when James Dolan sold the team to Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai.