Forbes says Knicks are worth $3 billion, most valuable team in NBA

The New York Knicks are the most valuable team in the NBA and fourth among all US sports franchises, according to Forbes. They are worth a whopping $3 billion after signing a new local television deal.

From Forbes:

The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.25 billion, up 13% over last year on the heels of a 74% gain the previous year after the national media deals were completed.

The New York Knicks reclaim the top spot from the Los Angeles Lakers after a one-year hiatus, thanks to a new cable deal and the highest premium-seating revenue in the league at almost $90 million. The split of the media and sports assets of Madison Square Garden Company in September precipitated a new media rights deal for the Knicks with the MSG regional sports network. The 20-year pact kicks off this season and is worth $100 million in the first year. We value the Knicks at $3 billion, up 20% and fourth most among U.S. sports franchises behind only the Dallas Cowboys ($4 billion), New England Patriots ($3.2 billion) and New York Yankees ($3.2 billion).

The last two seasons rank among the three worst in Lakers history, and the 2015-16 season, which doubles as Kobe Bryant’s retirement tour, is shaping up even worse. Even so, the Lakers are the NBA’s most profitable team thanks to the club’s 20-year, $3.6 billion deal with Time Warner Cable's SportsNet LA. Ratings were off more than 50% for Lakers’ games during the 2014-15 season with Bryant sidelined by injuries most of the year, but the average audience size of 122,000 viewers per game was still the second highest in the NBA. Operating profits, in the sense of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, were an NBA-record $133 million last season by our count. The Lakers are now worth $2.7 billion.

Rounding out the top five are the Chicago Bulls ($2.3 billion), Boston Celtics ($2.1 billion) and Los Angeles Clippers ($2 billion). Thirteen teams are worth at least $1 billion, up from just three two years ago.

Three thoughts about the story:

1) It's interesting that every team except for the hopeless Brooklyn Nets turned an operating profit. Oh, the Nets. At least they're under the luxury-tax line this season, I guess.

2) The Knicks are doing quite well, aren't they? On the court, they are respectable even if they are currently out of the playoffs. Off it, though, the perception of the team couldn't be more different than it was this time last year. Rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis, who has sold more jerseys than everyone not named Stephen Curry, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, has given New York hope. And thanks to this new TV deal, the franchise looks a lot better financially.

3) I wonder where the Lakers land on this list next year. They fell behind the Knicks despite Bryant's farewell tour, and there's no guarantee any big names will join the team in the summer. If losses continue to mount next season without Bryant as a draw, perhaps they'll drop a little more. Not that it really matters -- the TV deal means Los Angeles will still be ridiculously profitable. 

Things are going well in New York.  (USATSI)
Things are going well in New York. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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