The Least Valuable NBA Team Is Still Worth an Astounding $1.3 Billion

Every year, Forbes puts together a list of values for every NBA team. Most of the attention on this list goes toward the teams at the top of the list — typically big market teams with some sort of star power or legacy that pushes their value over the rest. A look at the bottom-ranking Memphis Grizzlies, however, provides an interesting insight into what value means and how it doesn’t necessarily dictate a team’s success. 

How is the value of an NBA team determined? 

Anybody who purchased an NBA team before 2011, when no teams were valued at over a billion dollars, is likely loving their investment in 2020. The values across the league have skyrocketed as more stars join, revenue pours in, and the league continues to grow both at home and internationally.

Plenty has been made about recent events, such as Rockets GM Daryl Morey possibly costing the league revenue with his controversial comments about China, but the league is still thriving. 

A lot can dictate an NBA team’s value. Their television deals, audience, revenue from games, merchandising, star power, and overall popularity can be moved by the slightest change. For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost money not just when LeBron James left, but in the years before that when his departure was just a possibility.

The stock market, city, arena, and buzz around a franchise can all make a difference. The New York Knicks, despite an annual tradition of mediocrity and disappointment, continue to be the league’s most valuable franchise thanks to their city, the historic arena, and the brand name keeping its value up.

This helps fuel the belief many have that owner James Dolan doesn’t dump money into the team because he knows he will make money, regardless. A look down the list, however, shows that these values plummet as the markets get smaller. The Memphis Grizzlies rank dead last, with $1.3 billion value. 

The Memphis Grizzlies’ value

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The Grizzles came in dead last among NBA teams with a $1.3 billion valuation. In a league where the average team value is $2.1 billion, the Grizzlies have failed to meet the average, but it does not mean that they are hurting.

Memphis isn’t known as a hotbed for sports, with the Grizzlies remaining the only major professional sports team in the city, and the lack of a superstar might hurt their value, too. 

Owner Robert Pera’s group bought the team for $377 million in 2012. This means that despite being 30th in the league’s valuation, the team has still triple in worth. His journey as an owner has been an interesting one.

Not long after seizing control of the team, he made headlines for peculiar ideas such as letting then-coach Dave Joerger use a headset to get advice from somebody else during the game. 

The lack of a major media market, inability to go over the top and win a championship, an arena that is out of date after 15 years, and lack of national support means that while the Grizzlies might have nothing going for them

Despite these eccentricities, however, the team has seen success on the court. Pera kept control of the Grizzlies by agreeing to buy out a pair of minority owners in 2018, and now the team has one of the most exciting young cores in the NBA

Is the future bright for the Memphis Grizzlies?

It wasn’t long ago that the Grizzlies were contending on the backs of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley Jr., and other aging players. Now, however, the team has a youthful renaissance who is taking the league by storm. With Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, and a team filled with young talent, the future looks bright for the Memphis Grizzlies. 

The team might not have the value of the New York Knicks, but for fans of winning, the Grizzlies are beginning to do so at the best value in the NBA, while Knicks fans can continue having nightmares as their ownership continues being content with the valuable, yet mediocre product he continuously throws out on the court.