Report: Warriors sweep could cost team $22 million in lost gate revenue

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Nobody in the Warriors ownership group would complain — they would rather have the ring.

But if you wonder why sometimes management of a franchise pushes for the playoffs over tanking for draft position, this little note from Darren Rovell at ESPN can help explain it — teams rake in a lot of additional revenue from playoff games. In the Warriors case, the difference between a sweep and seven games is north of $20 million.

In the Warriors case, the difference between a sweep and seven games is north of $20 million.

In fact, a Game 5 in Oakland alone comes close to paying Steph Curry’s salary for the entire 2016-17 season: $12.1 million. All told, sweeping the series in Cleveland and not returning twice to the Bay Area, as the Warriors did last year for Games 5 and 7, would cost the Warriors’ ownership group more than $22 million.

Read the article and you see that’s some back-of-the-napkin math by Rovell that doesn’t take into account some team expenses and may overestimate revenue a little, but the basic fact is teams make a lot of money on hosting playoff games. For teams on the bubble between profit and loss, a handful of playoff home games can push a team into the black. (If you want to know why the NBA will not go back to the best-of-5 first round most of us would prefer, there is your answer.)

Here’s why the extra income: Teams pay players during the regular season, but not the playoffs (they make some money from a pool from the NBA, but the teams don’t have to cut checks twice a month anymore). That’s 50 percent of their revenue, not to mention all their other expenses (training staff, coach, business side staff, equipment, etc.). While the NBA takes a 25 percent cut of the playoff gate receipts, the team keeps the rest (some expenses are still there, but not the largest one). It’s millions and millions in profit (and for teams where the owner also controls the building, a lot of money goes into that pocket as well).

That doesn’t mean Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant care and want to see another home game or two just to pad the bottom line for their billionaire owners. Just remember the NBA remains a business, so the money matters.