Knicks retain top spot as Forbes' most valuable NBA team

By Frank Pingue
Phil Jackson (R) and New York Knicks owner James Dolan pose during a news conference announcing Jackson as the team president of the New York Knicks basketball team at Madison Square Garden in New York March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - The New York Knicks are the NBA's most valuable team for the second consecutive year despite having been shut out of the playoffs since 2013, according to a Forbes poll released on Wednesday that showed the average team value rose 9 percent.

The Knicks' value rose to $3.3 billion, up 10 percent from last year, as they continue reaping the rewards of a $1 billion renovation to Madison Square Garden, which produced new revenue opportunities from sponsorships and seating.

According to Forbes, the Knicks also posted an NBA-record operating profit of $141 million last season, despite a 32-50 season record. It was the first season of the team's new local cable deal with MSG, which paid $100 million in year one.

The Los Angeles Lakers ($3 billion), Golden State Warriors ($2.6 billion), Chicago Bulls ($2.5 billion) and Boston Celtics ($2.2 billion) rounded out the top five.

The reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers were ranked 11th out of the league's 30 teams with a 9 percent jump in value to $1.2 billion.

The Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder all lost money last season due to excessive payrolls that triggered the luxury tax.

The average NBA team's value rose to $1.36 billion, a rise driven by the NBA's nine-year, $24 billion media deal with ESPN and TNT that kicked off this season, a new collective bargaining agreement ensuring seven years of labor peace and substantial international opportunities for the league.

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(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto)