The National Football League may be the top professional sports league in all of North America, but that does not at all mean that it is currently bad times for the National Basketball Association. A new media rights deal that was agreed upon last fall is going to make the league over $2 billion in total. It is essentially a guarantee that the league’s salary cap is going to rise sooner than later, meaning that the players will be making more cash via NBA salaries in the near future than ever before. The NBA also did well to bounce an alleged racist owner from the league in 2014, arguably the best move that the league has made in many years.
It also helps that the NBA has as much star power today as does any other league in North America, and that includes the NFL. Aaron Rodgers is equal to LeBron James. For every Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, there is a Kobe Bryant and a Carmelo Anthony. Young athletes such as Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving will help mold the future of the NBA, a future that looks bright, indeed. While the quality of play isn’t always what one would expect to see, it would be inaccurate to claim that the NBA does not offer top-notch entertainment in 2015.
You may be surprised to learn that the NBA team that has the best player on the planet is not included in the top-ten most valuable franchises for 2015. That could change next year, however, if that franchise continues to sell games out and if it wins a championship. What is also noteworthy is that team records do not necessarily have much to do with the value of that club, as you will see with the franchise that comes in at No. 2 on this list. That team is worth what it is worth because of where it is located and where it plays home contests.
Values from Forbes
10. Dallas Mavericks: $1.15 Billion Team Value
Casual sports fans and those who enjoy staying in and watching television on Friday nights likely associate the Mavericks with eccentric owner and star of the ABC television program Shark Tank, Mark Cuban. The latest Forbes piece points out an interesting piece of information on the franchise: “The Mavs currently have the longest sellout streak in the four major sports. They have sold out every game since December 15, 2001 with the streak topping 500 games last year.” That’s fascinating when you consider that Dallas has won a single NBA championship over that stretch of time.
9. Miami Heat: $1.175 Billion Team Value
The Heat are learning what it is like when LeBron James takes his talent from South Beach. Miami is, as of the middle of January, a club with more losses than wins, and no logical person is expecting the Heat to make a return to the NBA Finals with the club’s current roster. The Heat do have a sweet deal with Miami-Dade County as it pertains to hotel taxes, one that runs through 2035. Their overall worth along with the idea that the salary cap is set to rise at some point over the next couple of years should translate to the Heat once again spending big on free agents. Who wouldn’t want to spend his off time in Miami, right?
8. Houston Rockets: $1.25 Billion Team Value
The Rockets are a team that is, in the winter of 2015, somewhat stuck in NBA purgatory. Houston is a middle-of-the-road club that is going to make the NBA Playoffs, but the Rockets likely will not be able to hang with the likes of the Golden State Warriors or Portland Trail Blazers when all is said and done. Just as did the NBA, the Rockets put pen to paper on a new television deal last fall. Houston will be hoping that the new Root Sports Southwest is a success, as the original Comcast SportsNet Houston experiment was largely a failure for both the Rockets and Major League Baseball club the Houston Astros.
7. Golden State Warriors: $1.3 Billion Team Value
The worth of the Warriors may only rise over the next several years. Golden State has Stephen Curry, one of the best younger players in all of the NBA and a talent who is being used in national advertising campaigns and ESPN SportsCenter television commercials. As of January 22, 2015, the Warriors were the best overall team in the NBA, having lost only six of the team’s first 40 regular season contests. They play in a massive TV market, and the Warriors are set to open a brand new arena located in San Francisco. Golden State is expected to begin playing in the team’s new home in 2018.
6. Brooklyn Nets: $1.5 Billion Team Value
A high payroll that was spent on aging players that were never going to accomplish what the Boston Celtics did last decade. A lousy local television contract. On-the-court play that has yet to meet that hype that came with the Nets moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn. It is almost as if Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov acquired controlling interest of the club with the intention of holding onto it until he could sell it and make a profit. That is exactly what happened, actually, and it is the fans of the Nets who will be suffering for at least the next couple of NBA seasons.
5. Los Angeles Clippers: $1.6 Billion Team Value
A die-hard pro basketball fan who has been asleep or in a coma for the past 10 years would be in shock to learn that the Clippers and not the Lakers are the top NBA team in Los Angeles. That will likely be the case for at least the next several years. The Clippers were sold to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in the summer of 2014 after racist comments made by former team owner Donald Sterling saw the light of day. The former little brother of Los Angeles NBA basketball has more stars and more talent than do the Lakers, which will be the case until an aging legend (finally) calls time on his playing days.
4. Boston Celtics: $1.7 Billion Team Value
One can be sure that Boston fans will love to know this piece of information about the Celtics that was presented in the Forbes piece: “The Celtics are one of the NBA’s most profitable teams since they pay no rent at TD Garden and pull in over $60 million a year in local television revenue, including their equity stake in Comcast SportsNet New England.” You wouldn’t know that the Celtics have so much cash to splash if you were to look at team salary cap trackers and see that Boston has millions upon millions of dollars to spend on talent without being close to going over the luxury tax.
3. Chicago Bulls: $2 Billion Team Value
LeBron James has been a thorn in the side of the Bulls for several years. That could change in the spring of 2015. While James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are still looking to build chemistry halfway through the campaign, the Bulls are playing like a side capable of going on a run so long as key members of the roster can remain healthy. Normally it is Derrick Rose and his well-known knee issues that has Chicago fans fearing the worst. This time, however, it is Joakim Noah dealing with a sprained ankle that is negatively affecting the Bulls.
2. New York Knicks: $2.5 Billion Team Value
The Knicks are maybe the most curious team in all of the NBA. Every reasonable analyst and fan could see that the club was in the midst of a rebuilding period, one that would include New York dumping player salaries, but the franchise then went and gave Carmelo Anthony a massive contract extension over the summer. Even if Anthony did give the Knicks a hometown discount (and he did, to a point), those running the organization already have to be regretting that decision. If you want to tank, than fully embrace that plan as have the Philadelphia 76ers. Fans are going to trek to Madison Square Garden either way because it’s the Garden.
1. Los Angeles Lakers: $2.6 Billion Team Value
I get why the Lakers and Kobe Bryant agreed to a deal that will make him $48.5 million guaranteed up through the end of the 2015-16 NBA season. Everybody wants him to retire having only played with the club, and Bryant wanted to cash in on a final player contract. That said, the Lakers are going to be downright lousy until Bryant’s contract runs out unless the team somehow finds a way to shift funds. Los Angeles is currently 15th in the league in cap space, and the opportunity to play alongside Bryant is not as attractive to free agents as it was even a few years back.