In professional sports, the days of playing for pennies are a thing of the past. It’s been that way for a while, but thanks to the obscenely large contracts being thrown around, we’re reminded of this fact on what seems like a regular basis. And when it comes to the NBA, given what we now know, we don’t expect this to change anytime soon.
The NBA is flush with cash. Lucrative television deals, a plethora of revenue-generating opportunities, and an expanding international audience enables those involved in the league to reap serious rewards. But individuals aren’t the only ones profiting; teams as a whole are rolling in benjamins.
According to Forbes, the average NBA franchise is now worth a whopping $1.36 billion. Yes, you read that right; that’s billion with a “b.” Of course, if you think that’s crazy, just wait until you see what the teams at the top of the mountain are worth. Using the operating income and revenue from the 2015–16 season, here’s a look at the 10 most valuable NBA teams in 2017.
10. Miami Heat
Current value: $1.35 billion
Although the Miami Heat failed to advance past the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2015–16, it stilled proved to be a fruitful season for the organization. The franchise generated $210 million in revenue, turned in an operating income of $21.1 million, and ended up as the 10th most valuable NBA team with a $1.35 billion valuation. Considering the Heat brand is only valued at $167 million, this is a fairly impressive finish.
9. Dallas Mavericks
Current value: $1.45 billion
Since the 2000–01 season, the Dallas Mavericks have only missed the postseason once. While that number is destined to double in 2016–17, the organization’s consistent success over the years has made it one of the most valuable NBA teams.
According to Forbes, the Mavs have the longest active sellout streak — 691 games and counting, including the postseason — among teams in the four major American sports leagues (a feat that helps their arena achieve a value of $344 million). The franchise is currently valued at $1.45 billion. Owner Mark Cuban must feel pretty good about his investment.
8. Houston Rockets
Current value: $1.65 billion
Last season’s hiccup — a 41-41 record and an eighth-place finish in the Western Conference — certainly didn’t derail the Houston Rocket’s overall worth. In 2015–16, the organization had an operating income of $62.7 million, amassed $244 million in revenue, and soared $1.65 billion valuation. Thanks to a fantastic sports market (valued at $694 million), superstar James Harden’s inspiring play this season, and the team’s recent return its winning ways, we suspect the Rockets will continue to fly among the most valuable NBA teams.
7. Brooklyn Nets
Current value: $1.8 billion
The Brooklyn Nets are a perfect example of how a crappy team can still be valuable. The Nets finished the 2015–16 season with a 21-61 record, good for 14th place in the Eastern Conference. Yet they managed to garner an impressive worth of $1.8 billion. We guess when you play in New York, a market valued at $602 million for the organization, anything is possible.
6. Los Angeles Clippers
Current value: $2.0 billion
The Clippers might never be worth as much as their LA counterparts, but they still roll in dough. Despite a -$11.8 million operating income, the Clips generated $185 million in revenue, have a market valuation of $729 million, and hold a $675 million valuation because of the “sport” factor. With a total worth of $2 billion, the Clippers are the sixth most valuable franchise in the entire NBA.
5. Boston Celtics
Current value: $2.2 billion
The Boston Celtics have always been one of the most storied franchises in all of sports. Yet, in 2015–16, the organization showed it was truly on the up and up. The C’s turned in an operating income of $60.1 million, generated $200 million in revenue, and finished the season as the NBA’s fifth most valuable team at $.2 billion. As long as point guard Isaiah Thomas continues to look like “The Answer,” the Celtics will have everyone else “green” with envy.
4. Chicago Bulls
Current value: $2.5 billion
The Bulls might struggle on the court, but they certainly won’t suffer off it. Per Forbes, in the 2015–16 season, the franchise averaged 21,820 fans per game, tops in the NBA for the seventh consecutive season. In the end, the Bulls generated $232 million in revenue, turned in an operating income of $45.5 million, and finished the year with a current value of $2.5 billion. Not bad.
3. Golden State Warriors
Current value: $2.6 billion
Despite falling short of a second straight title in 2015–16, the Golden State Warriors made crazy strides from a value standpoint. The Dubs had the NBA’s highest average cable TV rating (9.76), turned in an operating income of $74.2 million, and generated $300 million in revenue. The organization’s overall value also increased 37% — highest in the league — to $2.6 billion. At this rate, just as it is on the court, the sky’s the limit for Golden State.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Current value: $3.0 billion
The Lakers “brand” (now valued at $595 million) might not be enough to woo free agents to Tinseltown. However, it continues to help the organization remain as valuable — up 11% over the last year — as ever. Thanks in part to LA’s $1.7 billion sports market, the franchise generated $333 million in revenue and pulled out an operating income of $119 million during the 2015–16 season. At $3.0 billion, the Lakers are the second most valuable team in the NBA.
1. New York Knicks
Current value: $3.3 billion
For the second consecutive season, the New York Knicks are the most valuable NBA team. This might sound odd considering how terrible they are. However, when you assess the value of the arena ($849 million) and the market ($1.7 billion), things begin to make more sense. Plus, the Knicks also managed to turn in a league-record $141 million operating income. Clearly, this could only happen in New York.
To see Forbes’ complete list of “The NBA’s Most Valuable Teams 2017,” check out the gallery here.