Forbes releases 2015 NBA franchise valuations, Lakers at $2.6 billion top the list

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The NBA’s owners cried poverty during the last round of collective bargaining agreement negotiations, and partly as a result, the league was able to get a much more favorable split of basketball related income in relation to what goes to the players.

After the latest round of franchise valuations that was released by Forbes, it’s going to be extremely difficult for them to try that tactic again.

The average team valuation jumped 74 percent from a season ago, and the average franchise value is now at $1.1 billion.

From Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes:

What do you get when you combine a massive new $24 billion television contract, a nearly six-year bull market in equities creating tremendous wealth, and cheap credit? You get a massive rise in sports franchise values, with the NBA serving as ground zero for the current boom.  The average NBA team is now worth $1.1 billion, 74% more than last year. It is the biggest one-year gain since Forbes began valuing teams in the four major U.S. sports leagues in 1998. …

There are now 11 NBA teams worth at least $1 billion, by our count, compared to three a year ago. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the way at $2.6 billion, up 93% over last year. The Lakers finished with their second worst record in franchise history at 27-55 last season and are faring even worse this year, but the team has the richest local TV deal in the sport: a 20-year, $4 billion contract with Time Warner that kicked off in 2012. …

The collective bargaining agreement signed between players and owners in 2011 has nearly eliminated money-losing teams, barring wild spending sprees on players (see Brooklyn Nets). Under the CBA, the players’ share of basketball related income was reduced from 57% to 50% (it is only around 47% of total revenue when you include all arena revenue streams). Revenue sharing to prop up the low revenue teams more than tripled from $55 million under the old CBA to $232 million last year. The result: the Nets were the only NBA team to lose money last season on an operating basis if you include all arena revenue.

One interesting thing to note, and that’s the fact that certain teams may draw bidding wars that drive the price up well past the current valuations. The Lakers and Knicks, for example, would be prime candidates to sell for hundreds of millions more than their already insanely-high price tag.

There’s a lot to digest, there, but the bottom line seems to be this: No matter what a team’s fiscal year balance sheet may look like (i.e., even if it shows a loss), there’s no denying that owners are making tons of money in the long run by hanging onto an NBA franchise. And don’t think the players won’t notice the next time it’s time to slice up the revenue-sharing pie.

Here’s the complete list, which, for the record, is fairly derided by many in the business each time it’s released.

Rank Team Current Value ($mil) 1-Yr Value Change (%) Debt/Value (%) Revenue ($mil) Operating Income ($mil)
1

Los Angeles Lakers

2,600 93 2 293 104.1
2

New York Knicks

2,500 79 0 278 53.4
3

Chicago Bulls

2,000 100 3 201 65.3
4

Boston Celtics

1,700 94 9 173 54.9
5

Los Angeles Clippers

1,600 178 0 146 20.1
6

Brooklyn Nets

1,500 92 19 212 -99.4
7

Golden State Warriors

1,300 73 12 168 44.9
8

Houston Rockets

1,250 61 8 175 38.0
9

Miami Heat

1,175 53 8 188 12.6
10

Dallas Mavericks

1,150 50 17 168 30.4
11

San Antonio Spurs

1,000 52 8 172 40.9
12

Portland Trail Blazers

940 60 11 153 11.7
13

Oklahoma City Thunder

930 58 15 152 30.8
14

Toronto Raptors

920 77 16 151 17.9
15

Cleveland Cavaliers

915 78 22 149 20.6
16

Phoenix Suns

910 61 20 145 28.2
17

Washington Wizards

900 86 14 143 10.1
18

Orlando Magic

875 56 17 143 20.9
19

Denver Nuggets

855 73 1 136 14.0
20

Utah Jazz

850 62 6 142 32.7
21

Indiana Pacers

830 75 18 139 25.0
22

Atlanta Hawks

825 94 21 133 14.8
23

Detroit Pistons

810 80 23 144 17.6
24

Sacramento Kings

800 45 29 125 8.9
25

Memphis Grizzlies

750 66 23 135 10.5
26

Charlotte Bobcats

725 77 21 130 1.2
27

Philadelphia 76ers

700 49 21 125 24.4
28

New Orleans Pelicans

650 55 19 131 19.0
29

Minnesota Timberwolves

625 45 16 128 6.9
30

Milwaukee Bucks

600 48 29 110 11.5

 

 

Zion Williamson’s attorneys work to avoid him answering questions about improper benefits at Duke

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MIAMI (AP) — Attorneys for NBA rookie Zion Williamson seek to block his former marketing agent’s effort to have the ex-Duke star answer questions about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils.

In a Florida court filing last week, Williamson’s attorneys say those questions are “nothing more than a fishing expedition aimed at tarnishing Williamson’s reputation” and designed to “maximize potential embarrassment and media coverage in an attempt to improperly gain settlement leverage.”

“Plaintiffs’ irrelevant and invasive requests are designed to harass and not calculated to lead to discovery of relevant evidence,” Friday’s filing states.

It is the latest exchange in the fight over the No. 1 overall NBA draft pick’s endorsement potential.

Prime Sports Marketing and company president Gina Ford filed her lawsuit last summer in Florida, accusing Williamson and the agency now representing him of breach of contract. Williamson filed his own lawsuit a week earlier in North Carolina to terminate a five-year contract with Prime Sports after moving to Creative Artists Agency LLC.

Ford’s attorneys had submitted questions this month asking whether the New Orleans Pelicans rookie or anyone on his behalf sought or accepted “money, benefits, favors or things of value” to sign with Duke. Those filings – offering no evidence of wrongdoing by Williamson or his family – sought answers within 30 days to establish facts under oath in the pretrial discovery process.

Williamson’s attorneys seek a stay while appealing the December denial of their motion to dismiss the Florida case based on lack of jurisdiction, or a protective order as an alternative.

At the heart of the dueling lawsuits over Williamson’s marketing rights is this: Williamson says the contract he signed with Prime Sports is illegal under North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agent Act (UAAA) because Ford was not registered with North Carolina to negotiate with amateur athletes (which Zion was at the time, having just played for Duke). Ford and Prime dispute that, saying this was a legal and binding negotiation.

One key reason NBA may return with 22 teams: Players want regular-season games

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Nothing is set in stone about an NBA return — at least not until next Thursday — but momentum seems to be building behind a plan that would bring 22 teams to the Orlando bubble.

That plan brings every team within six games of the playoffs when the season was halted into the competition, a total of 22 teams (13 from the West and nine from the East, the playoff teams plus Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, Phoenix, and Washington). There would be some regular-season games played, likely five to eight, followed by a play-in tournament for the final playoff seeds, then the playoffs with full seven-game series each round. Exactly what that play-in tournament would look and if the NBA would stick with the conference playoff alignment or seed 1-16 is up in the air (although the conference alignment seems to have more backing).

Why that plan? For one, it gets more cities and more fan bases involved — and it happens to bring Zion Williamson and the Pelicans into the mix, a big television draw. It also could help a few teams reach a 70-game broadcast threshold with local broadcasters.

Mostly, however, the players want it because they get some games under them before the playoffs start, something Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported on at ESPN.

Regardless of how many teams are ultimately included in the playoffs, the National Basketball Players Association has consistently stressed that it wants several regular-season games to be played prior to the start of the playoffs, sources said. That has been a prevailing sentiment among several contending teams that prefer a tuneup before beginning the postseason, sources said.

A lot of players — influential players — have pushed for some regular season or meaningful games before the playoffs start. It’s about health, as trainers told us at NBC Sports, go from zero to 100 jumping straight into the playoffs and teams are asking for injuries. Players understand that.

Maybe only 20 teams end up in Orlando, that plan is on the table as well, but either way expect some regular-season games before the playoffs start. If the powerful players want it to happen, it will.

PBT Podcast: 2020 NBA Mock Draft crossover podcast, Part Deux

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We’re back at it… and not just drinking beer during a podcast. Although we do that, too.

For the third consecutive season, Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk and I collaborated for a first-round mock draft. Rob knows the prospects better than anyone; I provide some knowledge about what the teams might be looking for. The result is a unique listening experience breaking down who will be picked where based on fit.

The first ten picks can be found over on the College Basketball Talk feed.

Here we finish off the lottery and run through the entire rest of the first round.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant make top 10 of Forbes highest-paid athletes list

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LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant make more money off the court in endorsements than they do in salary from their teams. Which is not a surprise.

It’s enough money to vault them into the top 10 of FORBES Magazine’s list of highest-paid athletes for the last year.

LeBron is fifth at $88.2 million, of which $37.4 million is salary (although Forbes lists it as much less). Stephen Curry is sixth at $74.4 million, and Durant is seventh at $69.3 million.

Rounding out basketball players in the top 20 are Russell Westbrook at 12th ($56 million), James Harden at 17th $47.8 million, and Giannis Antetokounmpo at $47.6 million. Overall, 34 NBA players are in the top 100, including rookie Zion Williamson at 57th ($27.3 million).

Tennis legend Roger Federer topped the list at $106.3 million, and he was followed by soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar, before we got to LeBron.

Despite all the work that goes into them, these Forbes estimates have a reputation for being off the mark. That said, it makes for a fun debate and ranking, and we could all use that right now.