People keep reminding us, the NBA is a business, and like every business, its main goal is profit. If we look at it through that lens, the New York Knicks are the NBA’s best team. The Knickerbockers are the third team to join the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees with a valuation of $5 billion. Winning NBA games for them is optional.
The average NBA team valuation went up 4%, as it’s now at $2.2 billion (last year, it was $2.1 billion). Even in the billionaire world, the majority of value is concentrated, with the minority at the top. The six more valuable franchises represent almost two-thirds of the gains made from last year’s valuations. Here’s the entire list from Forbes.
- New York Knicks – $5 billion
- Golden State Warriors – $4.7 billion
- Los Angeles Lakers – $4.6 billion
- Chicago Bulls – $3.3 billion
- Boston Celtics – $3.2 billion
- Los Angeles Clippers – $2.75 billion
- Brooklyn Nets – $2.65 billion
- Houston Rockets – $2.5 billion
- Dallas Mavericks – $2.45 billion
- Toronto Raptors – $2.15 billion
- Philadelphia 76ers – $2.075 billion
- Miami Heat – $2 billion
- Portland Trail Blazers – $1.9 billion
- San Antonio Spurs – $1.85 billion
- Sacramento Kings – $1.825 billion
- Washington Wizards – $1.8 billion
- Phoenix Suns – $1.7 billion
- Utah Jazz – $1.66 billion
- Denver Nuggets – $1.65 billion
- Milwaukee Bucks – $1.625 billion
- Oklahoma City Thunder – $1.575 billion
- Cleveland Cavaliers – $1.56 billion
- Indiana Pacers – $1.55 billion
- Atlanta Hawks – $1.52 billion
- Charlotte Hornets – $1.5 billion
- Orlando Magic – $1.46 billion
- Detroit Pistons – $1.45 billion
- Minnesota Timberwolves – $1.4 billion
- New Orleans Pelicans – $1.35 billion
- Memphis Grizzlies – $1.3 billion
The discrepancy between the large market and small market teams is more considerable when looking at their revenue. The Warriors‘ new arena is the best example of that. With only 34 games played in Chase Center before COVID shut the season down, the Warriors had an NBA-record $474 million in revenue last season. Forbes projected that revenue to be over $700 million in a season with 41 regular-season games and a round of playoffs. Joe Lacob’s group purchased the team in 2010 for $450 million.
Despite all the financial hits the NBA took due to COVID, the overall financial health of the league is considered to be very good. One change the league made to attack fresh capital is changing the rule on private-equity funds. Private-equity firms can now own up to 20% of a single franchise.
Once fans are able to get back to arenas at full capacity – hopefully, that happens next season – the NBA should be in good health to continue where it left off before the pandemic.