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

 

 

Report: Gregg Popovich met with Kawhi Leonard in San Diego

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Don’t count the San Antonio Spurs out of the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes just yet.

We have been waiting on pins and needles to see whether or not Spurs coach Gregg Popovich would meet with the apparently disgruntled Leonard this week before San Antonio approaches Thursday night’s NBA draft.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania, Leonard and Popovich met on Tuesday night in San Diego where Leonard has been working out.

Via Twitter:

For what it is worth, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reporterd that Popovich has not yet met with Leonard, but is traveling to Southern California to meet with the Spurs forward. Even further, Leonard has reportedly requested a trade to Los Angeles from the Spurs, specifically to the Lakers.

Via ESPN:

Leonard wants a trade to Los Angeles, preferably the Lakers over the Clippers, league sources said. He has privately maintained that he no longer wants to play in San Antonio, and will eventually alert rival teams considering trades for him that his intentions are to sign in Los Angeles — preferably with the Lakers — when he can become a free agent in 2019, league sources said.

Leonard had told confidants that he did not want to sit down with Popovich and has been purposely difficult for the Spurs to reach recently. Among the issues, Leonard is angry over what he believes was the Spurs’ mishandling of a quad injury, and remains irate with public comments out of teammate Tony Parker and Popovich that he felt were not supportive of him, league sources said.

We had to know this was coming. San Antonio wasn’t going to let Leonard dictate the terms of his departure from Texas all by himself. Although Leonard has put the Spurs in a tough situation given his reported open request to play in Los Angeles, no doubt both parties would be better off from a basketball perspective if they were together. San Antonio apparently doesn’t want to make a deal with a Western Conference team, either.

Since the Spurs were trying to get in touch with Leonard before Thursday’s big selection night, it could be a signal that Leonard is on the move. Several teams, including the Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Cleveland Cavaliers are rumored to be interested in Leonard’s services.

Rumor: Cavaliers could have trade interest in Kemba Walker

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to do everything in their power to retain LeBron James. They are also doing everything they can do to prepare themselves for if James decides to leave Cleveland once and for all.

Last week we heard rumors about how the Cavaliers were trying to prepare an offer to snag Kawhi Leonard away from the San Antonio Spurs. That move could be seen either as an intent to entice James to stay, or as a replacement for The King.

Now, we have rumor that the Cavaliers could be interested in acquiring an Eastern Conference point guard, presumably to help LeBron next season.

According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the Cavaliers have inquired to the Charlotte Hornets about the availability of point guard Kemba Walker.

Walker, 28, just became the Hornets all-time leading scorer this last season. The University of Connecticut product has just one year left on his current deal at $12 million, and could be both a good rental for a season as a means to bolster another James Finals run, or as a focal piece moving forward.

As is the issue with any package for Leonard, a trade to the Cavaliers from Charlotte for Walker really depends on what a third trade partner can bring into the mix. Not many of Cleveland’s young players have performed well enough to be used as trade bait for marquee guys. That necessarily means that Kevin Love will be the main trade bait, and it is tough for many teams to have interest in the sharp-shooting forward given many already have that position filled.

We are just 48 hours away from the 2018 NBA Draft and no doubt rumors like this will continue to heat up as we get closer to 4 p.m. Eastern on Thursday night.

Michael Porter Jr. compares himself to Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo

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It has been rumored that Michael Porter Jr could be the player the Sacramento Kings draft at No. 2 overall on Thursday night in the 2018 NBA Draft. Meanwhile, according to Porter himself, there is good reason for his sudden leap up the draft boards.

Speaking on CBS Sports Radio on Monday, Porter said that he thought the players he most compared to right now were Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and Tracy McGrady.

Of course, the context here is that Porter was prompted to give a current NBA comparison, and as a shooter and physical player, he was unlikely to compare himself to a role player. Still, it’s a bold statement from Porter to say that he is akin to the second best player in the league at this moment. Durant has a skill set that hasn’t been replicated or really seen in the NBA, so it’s tough for anyone to really compare themselves to him.

Here is the quote, transcribed thanks to Deadspin:

Right now, I’m a little, I’m a mix of Giannis and KD. You know, I like going to the hole a little more than KD does, I like bumping into people a little more physical than KD. But I also, you know I like to shoot the ball more than Giannis. So that’s what I like to compare myself to. Then also Tracy McGrady. I get compared to him a lot and I like that one a lot too. You know, those are three amazing players. So it doesn’t feel bad to be in the same conversation as them.

In a recent interview with Dime Magazine, Porter said that he thinks Durant is the best player in the league, particularly when he plays against LeBron James. So really, Porder compared himself to the best player in the league.

The Missouri product has a litany of both character and injury questions. Rumors are abound about how well he will fit into an NBA locker room, and he famously decamped to Missouri Lorenzo Romar was fired in Washington.

Porder sat out most of the year with a nagging back injury, and had to call off some of his draft workouts because of a hip issue. Porter has tried to downplay his injury concerns, and has said that former Portland Trail Blazers star Brandon Roy told him to remain patient through injury.

The draft is less than 48 hours away, and most believe that taking Porter at No. 2 is a huge risk for the Kings. We will see just how confident Sacramento is about Porter’s ability to become an NBA teammate and stay healthy here soon enough.

Michael Jordan will still have input on Hornets draft day decisions

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Michael Jordan hired proven general manager Mitch Kupchak this offseason to help turn around a franchise mired in mediocrity since he became the Charlotte Hornets’ majority owner eight years ago.

But that doesn’t mean the highly competitive Jordan won’t have input on personnel decisions, beginning with the NBA draft on Thursday night.

Kupchak said in a pre-draft news conference Tuesday that he’ll have final say in who the Hornets select before quickly adding, “well, with the exception of one person – and obviously that’s ownership.”

Kupchak has won 10 NBA championships, including seven as an executive with the Los Angeles Lakers – so he knows a thing or two about building a winning roster. But he’s quickly learning that Jordan, who many consider the best NBA player ever, is still very much a hands-on owner when it comes to the players he employs.

And Kupchak understands that.

“There is a huge business component to our relationship,” Kupchak said.

Kupchak said he has communicated with Jordan on the phone and via text throughout the draft evaluation process. The 55-year-old Jordan arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday and the two have been studying tape on potential draft picks since.

The Hornets, who have failed to make the playoffs three of the past four seasons, have the 11th overall pick in the draft.

Kupchak has known Jordan since he was a freshman at the University of North Carolina.

However, Kupchak said that while they both are former Tar Heels, he never had considered Jordan a friend prior to being hired this past offseason to replace Rich Cho as Hornets general manager.

Since then they have had dinner together and gotten to know each other a little more.

He said the relationship has changed for the better.

“Hopefully when all is said and done, our other relationship, which is our friend relationship continues to grow and is not altered in any way,” Kupchak said. “There are no favors being done here. We’re friends and I think we’ll remain friends, but the bottom line in this business is success and winning games.”

Kupchak was rather forthcoming in the team’s pre-draft press conference Tuesday, saying the does not expect to trade the 11th overall pick.

He also said he expects that the handful of top-notch big men will be off the board by the time the Hornets make their selection.

“Right now I think the best player on the board is the player we are going to go after – and I’d expect that player to be a guard or a wing,” Kupchak said. “… I think we expect that we will be looking at guards and wings, but we will see.”