Forbes Releases 2021 NBA Franchise Valuations

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It has been an up-and-down 12 months for the NBA, which had to pause its operations for several months when its players first began testing positive for the coronavirus last March. Although the league was eventually able to play the 2020 postseason and is in the midst of its (slightly-abridged) 2020/21 regular season, fans still haven’t been able to return to arenas in many NBA cities, putting a major dent in projected revenues for the coming year.

Despite the financial challenges faced by many of the NBA’s teams, the overall value of those franchises continues to increase, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen and Mike Ozanian of Forbes. While it’s the most modest year-over-year rise since 2010, Forbes estimates that average team values are up by about 4% from 2020.

The Knicks have become the first franchise to earn a $5 billion valuation from Forbes, with a league-high 9% increase in their value since last February. The Warriors, meanwhile, also saw their value rise by 9%, according to Forbes, surpassing the Lakers for the No. 2 spot on the annual report. The league-wide average of $2.2 billion per team in 2021 is a new record for Forbes’ valuations.

Forbes’ valuations are slightly more conservative than the ones issued by sports-business outlet Sportico last month — Sportico’s report featured an average team value of nearly $2.4 billion, with the Knicks, Warriors, and Lakers all surpassing the $5 billion threshold.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $5 billion
  2. Golden State Warriors: $4.7 billion
  3. Los Angeles Lakers: $4.6 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $3.3 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.2 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers: $2.75 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $2.65 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $2.5 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $2.45 billion
  10. Toronto Raptors: $2.15 billion
  11. Philadelphia 76ers: $2.075 billion
  12. Miami Heat: $2 billion
  13. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.9 billion
  14. San Antonio Spurs: $1.85 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.825 billion
  16. Washington Wizards: $1.8 billion
  17. Phoenix Suns: $1.7 billion
  18. Utah Jazz: $1.66 billion
  19. Denver Nuggets: $1.65 billion
  20. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.625 billion
  21. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.575 billion
  22. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.56 billion
  23. Indiana Pacers: $1.55 billion
  24. Atlanta Hawks: $1.52 billion
  25. Charlotte Hornets: $1.5 billion
  26. Orlando Magic: $1.46 billion
  27. Detroit Pistons: $1.45 billion
  28. Minnesota Timberwolves: $1.4 billion
  29. New Orleans Pelicans: $1.35 billion
  30. Memphis Grizzlies: $1.3 billion

While most franchise values increased, that wasn’t the case across the board. The Thunder, Hawks, Hornets, Pistons, Pelicans, and Grizzlies all maintained the same value that they had in 2020. No teams decreased in value, however.

The Jazz had the biggest rise in the bottom half of this list, moving from 21st in 2020’s rankings to 18th this year. That’s because the team was actually sold to a new majority owner in recent months, with Ryan Smith assuming control of the franchise at its new $1.66 billion valuation.

As that Jazz example shows, the actual amount a team is sold for often exceeds Forbes’ valuation, so these figures should just be viewed as estimates.

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