Phoenix Suns owner says he will not sell franchise

Phoenix Suns president Lon Babcock, who has owned the Phoenix Suns for eight seasons, said Wednesday that he will sell the team to an independent group led by billionaire investor Mark Cuban, who bought the team in February from Babcock and his brother, Dan.

The move to an entirely new entity is in keeping with Babcock’s recent comments on the franchise’s future.

“I’ll be honest, I’ve always had a strong sense of optimism about this franchise,” Babcock said in a statement released Wednesday.

“The future of the Suns is not in doubt, but it is my intention to continue to pursue the franchise in a new direction.”

The new group will also include Cuban, Cuban Enterprises, a Las Vegas-based media company, and the Los Angeles-based Sports Authority.

Cuban is known for his investment in basketball teams and for his outspoken advocacy of the NBA’s “War on Cancer.”

He also owns the NBA Los Angeles Lakers, and has been outspoken in his support of Cuban and his business partners.

In February, Cuban and Cuban Enterprises agreed to buy the Suns for $8.7 billion.

The deal includes $4 billion in debt, a team-friendly buyout of the team’s debt and $4.5 billion in cash, the team said at the time.

Babcock previously said that he would not sell the Suns, but the statement made no mention of that sale.

He did not offer a timeframe for when the team might leave Phoenix.

Babock was named the president of the Phoenix Mercury last year, but was unable to retain control over the team until January because of the lockout that ended the NBA season.