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