The average NBA team values is now $2.86 billion, a 15% increase from last year. This is an impressive feat, considering that the stock market has decreased by 15% over the same period of time. The Golden State Warriors, who are worth an eye-popping $7 billion, have contributed greatly to this growth.
The NBA is Golden.
The Golden State Warriors have the highest NBA team values, according to Forbes. This is the first time in over two decades that a team other than the Knicks or Lakers has taken the top spot. The Warriors are worth $7 billion, which is 25% more than last year. During the 2021-22 season, they generated the most revenue ($765 million) and operating income ($206 million) of any team in NBA history. This was due in part to their fourth championship win in eight years, as well as playing their first full season with fans in their new Chase Center arena.
In a stunning display of financial prowess, Warriors ownership raked in $150 million from arena sponsorships and advertising, double any other team in league history. They also pulled in more than $250 million from premium seating, by far outpacing any other team in terms of revenue.
According to Forbes, over past seven years, Knicks have been league’s most valuable team – followed by Lakers ($5.9 billion), Bulls ($4.1 billion) and Celtics ($4 billion).
The average NBA team is now worth $2.86 billion, 15% more than a year ago, an impressive feat considering the stock market is down more than 15% over the same span. After arena debt service, league-wide revenue and operating income for the 2021-22 season were $10 billion and $2.7 billion, respectively—both record highs. The NBA is back on its pre-Covid growth trajectory, led by aggregate record sponsorship and advertising revenue at the team and league level, which totaled $1.35 billion last season, also an all-time high.
The average multiple for the 30 teams is 8.6, which is up from 7 pre-Covid. Only one team, the Brooklyn Nets, lost money last year. The average debt/enterprise value of the 30 teams is just 10%. This means that buying a team today would allow an owner to quickly begin to pocket cash and never have to put in any more money. For example, since buying the Houston Rockets in 2017, Tilman Fertitta has pulled out at least $60 million a year (except for 2020-21 when the pandemic shortened the regular season to 72 games and greatly reduced attendance at games), according to sources.
When Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion in 2014, he knew it wouldn’t be easy. The former Microsoft CEO was well aware of the financial challenges that come with owning a basketball team. “I’m a new owner, and I’ve heard this is the golden age of basketball economics. You should tell our finance people that,” Ballmer joked a couple of years after buying the team. “We’re sitting there looking at red ink, and it’s real red ink. I know, it shows up on my tax returns. So it is real red ink.” But Ballmer is no longer complaining. The Clippers finished handily in the black last season, and Ballmer is building a new arena that has a $500 million naming-rights deal. The Clippers are now worth $3.9 billion.
Revenue sharing and a salary cap are two important factors that help keep professional basketball financially healthy. Low-revenue teams receive nearly $500 million from a pool that is funded by high-revenue teams and luxury tax payments. This ensures that all teams have a chance to be competitive.
The NBA is set to grow significantly in the coming years thanks to a new media deal and a new venture capital initiative.
The league’s next national media deal, which begins with the 2025-26 season, is expected to be worth at least double its current $2.66 billion agreement with ESPN and Turner Sports. In addition, the NBA has created a new venture capital initiative called NBA Equity. This initiative is similar to the NFL’s 32 Equity venture capital arm and is worth over $100 million per team.
NBA Equity was created in order to invest in existing or potential partners that will help drive innovation and expand the NBA’s business. This will help the league continue to grow and prosper in the years to come.
As part of its investment portfolio, the NBA has a stake in Sportradar, a publicly listed data company for gaming, media, and sports leagues. Nextiles, another company in which the NBA has invested, is a participant in the NBA Launchpad program and specializes in smart fabrics that capture data. Sorare is yet another one of the NBA’s investments and is a premier NFT-based fantasy gaming company. Finally, the NBA also has a stake in New Era, a lifestyle and apparel brand. According to sources familiar with NBA Equity, the portfolio has about 20 investments that are closing in on an aggregate value of $1 billion. Given the tremendous NBA team values and reach of the NBA’s intellectual property and brand, it is safe to say that NBA Equity will be an even more valuable asset down the line.
2022 NBA Team Values:
#1. $7 billion
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
1-YEAR CHANGE: 25% | OPERATING INCOME: $206 mil
OWNERS: Joe Lacob, Peter Guber
#2. $6.1 billion
NEW YORK KNICKS
1-YEAR CHANGE: 5% | OPERATING INCOME: $155 mil
OWNER: Madison Square Garden Sports
#3. $5.9 billion
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
1-YEAR CHANGE: 7% | OPERATING INCOME: $115 mil
OWNERS: Jerry Buss Family Trusts, Mark Walter, Todd Boehly
#4. $4.1 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 12% | OPERATING INCOME: $135 mil
OWNER: Jerry Reinsdorf
#5. $4 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 13% | OPERATING INCOME: $137 mil
OWNERS: Wycliffe Grousbeck, Irving Grousbeck, Stephen Pagliuca, Robert Epstein
#6. $3.9 billion
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
1-YEAR CHANGE: 18% | OPERATING INCOME: $12 mil
OWNER: Steve Ballmer
#7. $3.5 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 9% | OPERATING LOSS: -$34 mil
OWNER: Joseph Tsai
#8. $3.3 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 22% | OPERATING INCOME: $143 mil
OWNER: Mark Cuban
#9. $3.2 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 16% | OPERATING INCOME: $113 mil
OWNER: Tilman Fertitta
#10. $3.15 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 29% | OPERATING INCOME: $87 mil
OWNERS: Joshua Harris, David Blitzer
#11. $3.1 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 25% | OPERATING INCOME: $87 mil
OWNERS: Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, Larry Tanenbaum
#12. $3 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 30% | OPERATING INCOME: $83 mil
OWNER: Micky Arison
#13. $2.7 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 50% | OPERATING INCOME: $87 mil
OWNER: Robert Sarver
#14. $2.5 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 30% | OPERATING INCOME: $90 mil
OWNER: Ted Leonsis
#15. $2.3 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 21% | OPERATING INCOME: $51 mil
OWNERS: Wes Edens, Marc Lasry
#16. $2.1 billion
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
1-YEAR CHANGE: 2% | OPERATING INCOME: $81 mil
OWNER: Paul G. Allen Trust
#17. $2.05 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 24% | OPERATING INCOME: $74 mil
OWNER: Dan Gilbert
#18. $2.03 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 2% | OPERATING INCOME: $29 mil
OWNER: Vivek Ranadive
#19. $2.025 bil
1-YEAR CHANGE: 16% | OPERATING INCOME: $58 mil
OWNERS: Ryan and Ashley Smith
#20. $2 billion
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
1-YEAR CHANGE: 1% | OPERATING INCOME: $99 mil
OWNERS: Peter J. Holt, Sixth Street Partners
#21. $1.975 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 18% | OPERATING INCOME: $84 mil
OWNER: Tony Ressler
#22. $1.93 bil
1-YEAR CHANGE: 12% | OPERATING INCOME: $67 mil
OWNER: E. Stanley Kroenke
#23. $1.9 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 20% | OPERATING INCOME: $93 mil
OWNER: Tom Gores
#24. $1.875 billion
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
1-YEAR CHANGE: 15% | OPERATING INCOME: $129 mil
OWNERS: Clayton Bennett, George Kaiser, Aubrey McClendon estate
#25. $1.85 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 13% | OPERATING INCOME: $98 mil
OWNER: DeVos family
#26. $1.8 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 8% | OPERATING INCOME: $65 mil
OWNERS: Herbert Simon, Stephen Simon
#27. $1.7 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 8% | OPERATING INCOME: $94 mil
OWNER: Michael Jordan
#28. $1.67 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 8% | OPERATING INCOME: $87 mil
OWNERS: Glen Taylor, Marc Lore, Alex Rodriguez
#29. $1.65 billion
1-YEAR CHANGE: 10% | OPERATING INCOME: $107 mil
OWNER: Robert Pera
#30. $1.6 billion
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
1-YEAR CHANGE: 5% | OPERATING INCOME: $94 mil
OWNER: Gayle Benson
METHODOLOGY: Revenue and operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) are for the 2021-22 season and are net of revenue sharing and arena debt service. We use revenue multiples to calculate our team values (equity plus net debt) based on the economics of each team’s current arena deal. Our figures include revenue that team owners get from non-NBA events at their arena.
For example, the Warriors and the Nets control their arenas, so our figures combine P&L statements. In contrast, the Knicks and the Lakers are tenants in their arenas, so we attribute the revenue and expenses their respective lease agreements allot for each team. All figures are in U.S. dollars based on the average U.S.-Canada exchange rates during the 2021-22 season. The information used to compile our valuations primarily came from the teams, sports bankers, media consultants and public documents, such as arena lease agreements and bond documents.