DESPITE their struggles on and off the basketball court, the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers have remained the NBA’s most valuable teams with the Golden State Warriors making the most biggest growth from last year, according to Forbes.
In a report written by Forbes senior editor Kurt Badenhausen, the Knicks and the Lakers have withstood consecutive losing seasons and are still the top two most profitable franchises in the NBA, a position they have held the past two decades.
The average NBA team is worth $1.36 billion, their value going up with a 3.5-fold increase over the past five years. A nine-year, $24 billion media deal with ESPN and TNT that started this season and a new collective bargaining agreement for the next seven years are credited as major contributors to the growth.
For the second straight year, the Knicks are the NBA’s most valuable team and are valued at $3.3 billion, up by 10 percent from last year, a distinction it holds despite the turmoil that includes the ongoing drama between star Carmelo Anthony and Knicks president Phil Jackson and fan favorite Charles Oakley being thrown out of Madison Square Garden and subsequently arrested.
Even with a four-year absence in the playoffs, the Knicks are reaping the benefits of a $1 billion renovation of their arena that opened up new sponsorship opportunities and increased seating capacity. The team also earned from a $100 million local cable deal with MSG.
The Lakers made the most of superstar Kobe Bryant’s retirement tour and dampened the worst season in franchise history by increasing its value to $3 billion, up 11% from last year. The team managed to sell out the Staples Center and even set a single-day sales record for an arena in Bryant’s last home game.
A new player has emerged with the Golden State whose formula of building a contender saw the Bay Area franchise jump from sixth place last year to third. The team’s value rose an NBA-high 37% and is now pegged at $2.6 billion.
After winning a title in the 2014-15 season, the Warriors followed it up with a record-setting 73-win season and another trip to the Finals. Led by stars Steph Curry and the new addition Kevin Durant, the Warriors currently have the best record in the league and are looking at a third straight Finals appearance.
Golden State is set to challenge the Knicks and the Lakers in the revenue department, with a new, privately funded $1 billion arena in the affluent Mission Bay district set to open at the start of the 2019-20 season and securing the richest naming right agreement with Chase worth an estimated $300 million.
Rounding up the top five teams are the Chicago Bulls ($2.5 billion) and the Boston Celtics ($2.2 billion).
Valuation was based on four categories: sport, market, arena and brand.
Interestingly, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers were the only teams that lost money last season. The three franchises were over the salary cap and had to pay $90 million in luxury tax.
Despite having LeBron James and winning the first NBA title in franchise history, the Cavs lost $40 million in operating income due to a $54 million luxury tax that pushed total player costs to $185 million. The $40-million loss was the fifth biggest in the history of the NBA, according to Forbes.