August 1, 2014

Cavs among worst values in NBA per Forbes

Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown, Chris GrantWhat is “value” in the NBA? Is it wins? Is it bang-for-the-buck? Is it rooted in absurd television deals? Well, Forbes announced its annual valuations of the National Basketball Association’s 30 teams, naming—surprise!— the usually hapless New York Knicks as the most valuable team worth $1.4 billion, up 27 percent over last season. The Cleveland Cavaliers are slotted 19th overall, coming in at $515 million, a 19 percent jump over last year’s valuation1.

Over the course of 2013, Forbes forecasts that the Cavaliers pulled in $145 million in revenue, good enough to be among the top 12 in the league. Their operating income, however, as categorized as their earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, slots in at $10.8 million—better than just eight other NBA franchises. Worse, the Cavaliers are ranked as one of the league’s worst teams for the money (29th overall), having average player expenses (salaries, benefits and bonuses) of $63 million and just 64 wins over the last three seasons with nothing in the way of playoff appearances.

So how’d the Knicks do it? A three-year, $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden certainly helps—it pushed the Knicks’ revenue to $287 million, net of revenue sharing. The Knicks’ average TV rating on the MSG Network experienced a 71 percent jump from the previous season, as they made the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000. The playoff run and arena renovation helped the Knicks generate operating income of $96 million–reportedly a record for an NBA franchise. For more evidence of the large-market television deals playing a role in a way that would make baseball fans blush, cable money pushed the Lakers’ revenue to a record $295 million, net of revenue sharing2. (The Lake Show’s revenue sharing bill is roughly twice the size of the tab for the Knicks, but the Knicks get a break due to their $1 billion investment in Madison Square Garden.) More proof that TV rules the roost: Even with revenue sharing and a $29.3 million luxury tax bill that comes with the territory of having the NBA’s highest payroll, the Lakers turned an operating profit of $66 million, second highest in the NBA, roughly six times that of the Cavaliers.

For those wondering, the Cavs do have the seventh-best television deal in the league, one which nets the team an average of $25 million per season, but one that is also up at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season—the very season All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has a $9.2 million qualifying offer with the team.

(AP Photo/Jason Miller)



  1. Per Forbes, the average NBA team is now worth $634 million, 25 percent more than a year ago. []
  2. The Lakers inked a 20-year deal with Time Warner Cable for the creation of two new RSNs — one in English and one in Spanish — worth $200 million annually beginning with the 2012-13 season. Last season the team received $122 million, more than 3.5 times more than what the team received from its share of revenue from the NBA’s national television rights partners ESPN/ABC and TNT. []

Dan Gilbert passes Tigers owner Mike Illitch on billionaire list

Mike Illitch may be willing to deficit spend his way to a World Series, but it is Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert who is officially the wealthiest person to live in Detroit, Michigan, per Forbes.

Gilbert, the founder of Quicken Loans, Rock Ventures, Rock Gaming and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers — among other smaller companies and teams — is worth an estimated $3.5 billion, up from $1.5 billion in March 2012, because of the extraordinary growth of his privately held mortgage financing company. Forbes reports that the nation’s largest online lender closed $70 billion in mortgages last year, up from $30 billion in 2011.

Gilbert is also said to be purchasing Greektown Casino in Detroit, while being one of the main investors of a light rail system that will hope to improve the economic conditions of the rustbelt town.

When compared to the rest of the world, Gilbert, 51, slots in 354th overall. This compares to Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam who is said to be worth $1.8 billion, leaving him off of the top 500 as ranked by Forbes.

[Related: WFNY Podcast – Diminishing returns in baseball stats?]

Cleveland Cavaliers worth $434 million per Forbes

Dan Gilbert’s Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly worth $434 million. This report comes from the annual “Business of Basketball” report issued by Forbes. The Cavaliers, per this amount, rank 16th among the 30 teams in the NBA. Their profit last season, determined by operating earnings (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), was $19 million.

The Cavaliers went 21-45 during the 2011-12 season and saw attendance plummet 21 percent, to an average of just 15,900 per game at Quicken Loans Arena. It was the team’s second season since LeBron James left, but the first they could not use James to entice season ticket holders (James left the Cavs in July 2010 after fans already had purchased season tickets) which provided inflated figures for the 2010-11 campaign.

Per Forbes, the average NBA team is worth $509 million, representing a 30 percent  increase over the 2011-12 season. The increase is reportedly due to higher revenue from television, new and renovated arenas, and the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, which reduced player costs from 57 percent of revenues to roughly 50 percent. The labor deal also increased the amount of money high-revenue teams provide low-revenue teams.

The average operating income for the league’s 30 teams during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season was $11.9 million, the most since Forbes began tracking the finances of NBA teams in 1998. The NBA’s record profitability last season was a function of the new CBA and player costs (owners’ biggest expense) being slashed 20 percent due to the 66-game season.

For the 2012-13 season, the Cavaliers introduced a reconfigured scorer’s table intended to increase the amount of television exposure court-side advertisers get by at least 15 percent which should help boost revenue.

[Related: Forbes: Cavs Turned Biggest Profit Ever During 2010-11 Season]

Forbes: Cavs Turned Biggest Profit Ever During 2010-11 Season

In a recent report put together by Forbes which discussed the current state and value of NBA franchises as well as the successful television ratings which continue to go hand-in-hand with star-centric sporting events, we find that the Cleveland Cavaliers turned their biggest profit in the history of the franchise during the season which LeBron James was no longer a fixture within Quicken Loans Arena.

Per Forbes’ Kurt Badenhausen, despite falling victim to a professional sport record 26-game losing streak, Dan Gilbert’s Cavaliers earned $33 million in operating income, good enough for third best in the NBA. This figure is largely attributed to a $30 million payroll cut (James as well as Shaquille O’Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas were no longer on the team’s roster) and no luxury tax, which cost the Wine and Gold $16 million one season earlier.

Unfortunately, this one-year success, spurred largely by fans re-upping their season tickets prior to The Decision, does not bode well for overall franchise value as the Cavaliers’ value is down 7% to $326 million after a 26% drop last year. Current attendance totals are down 4,000 fans per game to 16,149, which presently ranks 17th in the league.

On the positive side, if television ratings can be used as a forecast for future interest, The Cavaliers rank fifth among NBA teams in ratings within their local markets (5.84), trailing only San Antonio (8.27), Miami (7.59), Chicago (6.80) and Oklahoma City (5.88) thanks to excitement surrounding Rookie of the Year hopeful Kyrie Irving and the fourth-overall selection Tristan Thompson.

[Related: Report: NBA Owners Discussing Revenue Sharing]

(Source: Kurt Badenhausen,

Forbes: Browns Worth $1.032 Billion

The annual list of NFL team values has come out based on last year’s revenues according to Forbes.  Despite a four-win season and an economic recession, the Browns’ value has stayed flat rather than losing value.  As always, that is a true testament to us the fans.  Imagine if the team was actually good and could capitalize a little bit better on creating national fans rather than just local ones?  I know the Browns Backers are a really really strong fan organization, but it is in spite of the team on the field.

The Browns rank 13th overall in the NFL according to Forbes.

The Browns have been smacked by the bad economy. The team fired a big chunk of its administrative staff early this year and despite having a waiting list for season tickets decided not to raise prices, which range from $32 to $85. The team is counting on former Jet head coach Eric Mangini to turn things around on the field for the Browns who won only four games last year after posting ten wins in 2007. Mangini, who compiled a record of 23-25 for Gang Green the past three years, was given a four-year contract in January.

The Dallas Cowboys are entrenched in the number one slot with a worth of $1.65 billion.  The Redskins are 2nd, and the Patriots are third.  The rest of the AFC North is Baltimore at #11 with $1.1 billion in value, Pittsburgh at #16 with $1 billion in value, and the Bengals at #21 with a $953 million value.  The most interesting statistic on Forbes’ pages regarding these three teams is the average ticket price.  The average ticket price in Pittsburgh is $75.  For the Bengals, it is $70.  For the Ravens, it is $77.  For the Browns, it is only $55.

Congratulations, Cleveland!

You are only the ninth worst city in which to be a sports fan. That’s right, there are eight teams ahead of you on Forbes’ illustrious list that combined various aspects of living with winning (or in this case, lack thereof).

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