NBA Teams Skyrocket in Value; Lakers, Knicks, Bulls Worth Most

Mo Williams, Michael Carter-Williams
The Associated Press

Thanks largely to a lucrative $24 billion television contract the average NBA team is now worth $1.1 billion.

According to Forbes, NBA teams enjoyed a whopping 74% jump in value over the last year, the largest one-year gain since they started valuing sports franchises in 1998.

Revenues are up in part because TV deals have skyrocketed. Advertisers are willing to pay premiums knowing that most people view sporting events live rather than on DVR, which allows viewers to eschew the commercials. The Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, and Sacramento Kings in the last six months procured TV deals three times as much as their prior agreements.

Overall the NBA has managed to go against the declining trend of TV broadcasting and increased their viewership by 26% since the 2002-2003 season.

Significantly, the Los Angeles Lakers tops the list of all NBA teams, with a valuation at $2.6 billion, which represents a 93% increase over last year. Even though they had the worst season in their history in 2014 with a 27-55 record, the Lakers still brought in a cool $293 million and a league-leading $104 million in net income after their revenue sharing contribution.

Much of their value comes as a result of owning the most lucrative TV contract in basketball with Time Warner worth $4 billion that started in 2012.

The New York Knicks take the second spot in the field of highest valued teams, reported Forbes. Despite missing the playoffs last year the team still attracted the most TV viewers in the NBA averaging 163,000 per game. The value of the New York franchise spiked 79% to $2.5 billion in 2014.

Rounding out the Forbes list top 5 are the Chicago Bulls ($2 billion), Boston Celtics ($1.7 billion), and Los Angeles Clippers ($1.6 billion). Forbes sees the Milwaukee Bucks, at $600 million, valued lowest among all teams.

The upward trend for the NBA teams overall looks good, especially with the widespread interest in the NBA by China and other countries. Moreover, Commissioner Adam Silver’s expressed interest in launching 4 NBA franchises in Europe could add another huge windfall.

However, there is a possible storm cloud hanging over the heads of owners. Potential collective bargaining conflicts seem eminent. Depending on how that ferrets out it could negatively affect the bottom line for the owners.

New Director of the NBA Players Association Michelle Roberts appears to mean business by saying salary caps are “un-American.” She considers ridiculous the idea that one-third of NBA teams are still losing money as Silver stated in October.

Roberts has one significant advocate against the salary cap on her side judging by the below tweet.