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Which NBA Teams Are Profitable?

The NBA draws in a tremendous amount of viewership every single season. This viewership turns into a lot of money-making opportunities for theNBA and the franchises that make up the league. In turn, the owners that operate these franchises make a significant amount of profit every single season. Not all franchises are created equal though, with some making quite a bit more money than others.

Which NBA Teams Are Profitable? Single franchise in the NBA is profitable in their own way. However, the majority of the biggest, most profitable franchises come from large markets. For example, the New York Knicks are consistently thought of as one of the most profitable teams due to their incredibly large market in New York and global brand. The same goes for teams operating out of California and even Texas.

You don’t just need a large market to be near the top of the list, nor do you need consistent playoff success. These top profitable teams range from a variety of different things.

Current Most Profitable NBA Team

We just mentioned this, but the Knicks are flat-out the most profitable team in the league right now. What’s even crazier about this is the fact that the Knicks haven’t had genuine and consistent success as a team in what feels like decades. The simple fact that this team plays all of their home games in Madison Square Garden just fully brings in every sponsorship opportunity that you can think of in New York. After all, the state has the largest media market in the country. Another profitable squad is the Golden State Warriors, a California based squad. Golden State rose the ranks with their dynasty that saw them win multiple championships alongside the greatest shooter of all-time, Steph Curry. Winning four Larry O’Brien trophies and reaching the NBA Finals six times certainly helps a franchise rise the ranks quicker than anybody. Then next, we have the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are one of the winningest teams in league history. They currently have won the most championships in the history of the league, and have likely played with more stars than any other franchise. Just thinking about how Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have all suited up in Los Angeles is insane. Lastly, we have the Brooklyn Nets surprisingly. Brooklyn also just happens to share that same location as the New York Knicks, which tremendously helps them out. Brooklyn has jumped over $1 billion in value since it swapped owners back in 2017. With the addition of both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the profitability chances are just rapidly rising.

Calculating the precise profitability of an NBA Franchise is an ever evolving task. A good way to look at it is by using their estimated value. Below we have created a table which shows the estimated value of each NBA Franchise, from the end of the 2021-22 financial year.

Ranked Estimated Value of NBA Franchises
1New York Knicks$5.8 billion
2Golden State Warriors$5.6 billion
3Los Angeles Lakers$5.5 billion
4Chicago Bulls$3.65 billion
5Boston Celtics$3.55 billion
6Los Angeles Clippers$3.3 billion
7Brooklyn Nets$3.2 billion
8Houston Rockets$2.75 billion
9Dallas Mavericks$2.7 billion
10Toronto Raptors$2.475 billion
11Philadelphia 76ers$2.45 billion
12Miami Heat$2.3 billion
13Portland Trail Blazers$2.05 billion
14Sacramento Kings$2 billion
15San Antonio Spurs$1.98 billion
16Washington Wizards$1.925 billion
17Milwaukee Bucks$1.9 billion
18Phoenix Suns$1.8 billion
19Utah Jazz$1.75 billion
20Denver Nuggets$1.725 billion
21Atlanta Hawks$1.68 million
22Indiana Pacers$1.67 billion
23Cleveland Cavaliers$1.65 billion
24Orlando Magic$1.64 billion
25Oklahoma City Thunder$1.63 billion
26Detroit Pistons$1.58 billion
27Charlotte Hornets$1.575 billion
28Minnesota Timberwolves$1.55 billion
29New Orleans Pelicans$1.525 billion
30Memphis Grizzlies$1.5 billion

Guaranteed Profitability

The NBA has made a concerted effort into guaranteed profitability to every single owner in the league. The NBA in particular was one of the first professional sporting leagues to create a salary cap to each franchise. This helped keep a lid on the amount of money that each owner can spend on their roster, which makes it far more fair for everybody involved. Otherwise, you would have one team spending into the negatives every year just to stack their roster while others can’t make any money due to lack of star power. Also, each franchise benefits from a handful of things that come directly from just being associated with the NBA. One of those things is a television deal. I believe every single franchise has some form of television deal that allows a company to broadcast their teams’ games whenever it is that they play. Most of the profits go straight into their pockets. They can also get a ridiculous amount of revenue from the stadium and the rights to the name. The tickets and concessions from the stadiums that these franchises play in further push the profitability scales forward for these guys. Then finally, there is the collective bargaining agreement that the league has created. This further helps the staff and players that keep the game entertaining. It gives health insurance to retired players and offers an increase in income for all players, though there is still a cap on that percentage that varies from year to year. The CBA also caps the number of players you can have on a roster, which helps out the franchise’s profitability due to not overspending on 30-50 players for just one team’s salaries. With all of this being said, profitability is guaranteed when you own an NBA team, there are just far too many things raking in money for each team.

Recent Major Changes In Value

One of the largest risks to a  change in value of an NBA franchise was the Phoenix Suns. Their owner, Robert Sarver, risked massive amounts of their profitability and sponsorship opportunities after it was found out that he used racial slurs and harassed other employees during his time as the leader of the organization. After an official investigation reviewed nearly 80,000 documents relating to this incident he was fined $10 million and suspended from all NBA activity for a year because of it.

Sarver has since announced he is looking to sell the team, in a move probably orchestrated with the league office and the other owners ahead of the suspension announcement. This will allow him to sell the team on his own terms and extract maximum value for his majority stake. At the same time restoring sponsor, league and fan confidence in the Franchises leadership.

The NBA is structured in a way that makes it almost impossible for the Majority Owners to make decisions that detract from the value of the franchise. The NBA is a machine that keeps on growing, with another huge television contract on the horizon and its global reach never bigger, all 30 NBA Franchises can rest safe in their profitability for some time to come.