The measurements have been drawn and, shock horror, NBA teams are worth quite an awful lot. And, in some cases, far more than they were worth last year, even.
The trend is continuing for Forbes Magazine’s annual valuations of the league’s 30 teams. The New York Knicks once again rank as the highest-valued club in the NBA at $3.3 billion, with the average NBA franchise now worth $1.36 billion and the one-year value change going up an average of 8 percent for the league’s group of giddy squads. Some 18 of those squads, more than half the league, are valued at over $1 billion.
The Knicks, a team that did not make the playoffs last season while finishing nine games under .500, had an operating profit of $141 million. From Forbes:
They continue reaping the rewards of a $1 billion renovation to Madison Square Garden, which produced new revenue opportunities from sponsorships and seating. The Knicks had an NBA-record operating profit of $141 million last season, despite a 32-50 season record. It was the first season of the team’s new local cable deal with MSG, which paid $100 million in year one.
The league’s 30 teams generated $5.9 billion in revenue last season, up 13% from the 2016 valuations and another record high for the league. The average NBA franchise value is $1.36 billion, up 9% over last year. NBA team values have shot up 3.5-fold over the past five years. Fueling the gains are; the NBA’s $24 billion media deal with ESPN and TNT that kicked off this season, a new collective bargaining agreement ensuring seven years of labor peace and substantial international opportunities for the league.
Operating profits are at a record high — an average of $31 million per team. Owners, meanwhile, are salivating at what’s on the immediate horizon: a new seven-year collective bargaining agreement that secures labor peace through the 2023–24 season, and the start of a nine-year, $24 billion national TV deal this season with ESPN and TNT worth triple the previous annual amount. Operating profits could double this season.
The Los Angeles Lakers, working through some tumult of their own, fell second to the Knicks at $3 billion. The wonderful Golden State Warriors rank third at No. 3 at $2.6 billion, and the always dependably decent Chicago Bulls run up fourth at $2.25 billion. The Boston Celtics round out the top five at $2.2 billion, and the Los Angeles Clippers are pitched right at the price that Steve Ballmer paid for them: $2 billion.
Understand that these valuations are just that, and merely a starting point for negotiations based off a Forbes Magazine-level of research.
The Atlanta Hawks sold for $850 million in 2015 just a few months after being valued at $825 million, which is not a small uptick but one we’d suspect is unique to Atlanta – these are the Hawks, after all.
If James Dolan and his cohorts at MSG felt like dumping the Knicks tomorrow, you could bet that whatever enterprise pounces on the squad could only wish for a $3.3 billion price tag. The same goes for the Buss family-run Lakers (only $3 billion for the Lakers? Come on), or Jerry Reinsdorf’s Bulls, constantly selling out that quiet arena with that-night fans who hardly make a peep, nor have reason to.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s dismissal of the Forbes valuations from a few years back still holds – and that isn’t just sour grapes, pitched just because the postseason regular from Dallas was beat out again in the rankings by at-times embarrassing franchises like the Lakers, Bulls, Clippers and especially the Knicks.
The spike years are over, but the days of wine and roses live on for 30 NBA owners. The valuations did not see as severe a jump in totals as happened in 2015, when Forbes rightly reacted to the league’s new television deal with Turner and ESPN. The percentages are still climbing, though, likely in great relief at the knowledge that the NBA will forego any labor impasses until at least 2022, by collectively bargained agreement.
This could be the edge of the bubble. We could look back on this batch of valuations and agree that the league was only getting started when it came to looking at fawning estimates of club value and expected growth, which we do when looking upon past Forbes valuations, or we could one day look at the 2017 (with live television rights still king) release as the highest-charted ebb.
We’ll deduce another day, we suppose. For now, as you delve into the numbers for each and every NBA team (the Sacramento Kings, those ridiculous Kings, are worth over $1 billion!), temporarily wow yourself at the rate in which the NBA has grown to steady itself as a league now boasting 30 inarguably giant franchises.
Even the Kings.
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