Lakers, Knicks Lead 2015 Forbes List of Most Valuable NBA Franchises

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2015

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The average value of an NBA franchise experienced unprecedented growth among major North American sports during 2014, based on the latest numbers from Forbes. The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks lead the way as the most valuable organizations.    

Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes reports the average overall value of a team in the NBA now sits at $1.1 billion. The number represents a 74 percent increase from last year and is based on numerous factors, including the league's new television deal:

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.

Below is a look at the top 10 based on current value. For a look at the complete breakdown on the value of each team, check out the outlet's full list.

2015 Top 10 NBA Franchise Values
1Los Angeles Lakers$2.6 billion
2New York Knicks$2.5 billion
3Chicago Bulls$2 billion
4Boston Celtics$1.7 billion
5Los Angeles Clippers$1.6 billion
6Brooklyn Nets$1.5 billion
7Golden State Warriors$1.3 billion
8Houston Rockets$1.25 billion
9Miami Heat$1.175 billion
10Dallas Mavericks$1.15 billion

Of course, a vast majority of the teams listed aren't for sale. The numbers are more symbolic than anything else in those cases.

There are a couple of exceptions, the biggest one being the Brooklyn Nets. Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg reported earlier in the month that the team is for sale. The Nets are listed at $1.5 billion, slightly behind the Los Angeles Clippers, which sold for $2 billion last year (current value: $1.6 billion).

Steve Ballmer, the new owner of the Clippers, spoke to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne in August about his decision to buy the franchise:

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Lots of people run lots of numbers. I feel like I paid a price I'm excited about. It obviously was a price that was negotiated and I feel very good about it. It's not a cheap price, but when you're used to looking at tech companies with huge risk, no earnings and huge multiples, this doesn't look like the craziest thing I've ever acquired. It's my own personal money, and you're just as careful with your own money as you are with your shareholders money. And compared to some of the public traded companies, there are great companies out there like Amazon with absolutely no earnings and a huge market caps [sic] and lots of risk. There's much less risk. There's real earnings in this business. There's real upside opportunity. So compared to the things I looked at in tech, this was a reasonable purchase and it's one I'm really excited about. Plus, I'm really excited about the product. I love it. I've been over [sic] a hundred basketball games in the last year and that's just high school games.

The other notable value is that of the Atlanta Hawks. Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported a deal was reached between the team's stakeholders to sell all 100 percent of the team. They are No. 22 on the list at $825 million.

All told, the Forbes evaluation notes there are currently 11 teams worth at least $1 billion after only three franchises reached that mark last year. The values grew in a major way in 2014, and owners around the league surely hope that trend continues into 2015 and beyond.

With the league's new television deal, among other factors, it's very likely that will happen.

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