Team expected to make early pitch

Updated: July 1, 2004, 6:39 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHOENIX -- Robert Sarver completed the $401 million purchase of the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. Now he might be primed for another $100 million investment.

A source told ESPN's David Aldridge that the Suns are prepared to offer Los Angeles Lakers free agent guard Kobe Bryant a six-year deal in excess of $100 million. The Suns can make an offer any time after 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday, the first allowable time for free agents to be contacted. The source also told Aldridge that the Suns will try to meet with Bryant's representatives on Friday in Los Angeles.

Bryant, who is facing an August trial in Eagle, Colo., on sexual assault charges, can re-sign with the Lakers for seven years and around $130 million. The Los Angeles Clippers are also very interested in Bryant, according to various reports.

Sarver, who owns about one-third of the franchise, will form an operating committee with minority owners Steve Kerr and Bryan Colangelo. Former owner Jerry Colangelo, Bryan's father, relinquished his 20 percent stake but will remain in the team's top management spot. He led an investment group that acquired the Suns in 1987 for $44.5 million.

NBA owners unanimously approved the sale of the Suns to Sarver, the team announced in a brief news release. The transaction includes the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League.

Sixty-five percent of the purchase price was paid at closing on Wednesday with the remainder due in three years, when Jerry Colangelo plans to step down. The price could rise to $415 million if certain incentives -- mostly based on team performance -- are met.

Sarver, 42, grew up in Tucson and graduated from the University of Arizona in 1982. He founded National Bank of Arizona at age 23.

He is chairman and chief executive of Western Alliance Bancorporation. He also is the founder of Southwest Value Partners, a major San Diego real estate investment company.

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