The regular season of a compelling NBA championship is drawing to a close. High-scoring games have helped contribute to an increase in TV audiences this year and the series continues to be a booming business.
NBA teams saw their value rise an average four per cent last year in a period of economic slowdown, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are in the middle of a $1.5 billion sale, to prove that business is thriving for the league.
Here we take a look at the five most expensive teams in NBA history.
Phoenix Suns (2022) – $4 Billion
When former Michigan State player turned mortgage executive Mat Ishbia agreed to buy the Phoenix Suns and their WNBA affiliate Mercury at the end of last year, the $4 billion price tag was, and remains, the biggest ever paid for an NBA franchise.
It also represented a bumper return for previous owner Robert Sarver, who had paid $401 million for the Suns in 2004.
Phoenix exited in the second round of the playoffs last season despite being the top seeds in the Western Conference, losing in a game-seven showdown to the Dallas Mavericks, and they go into this year’s postseason as the fourth seeds in the West.
Brooklyn Nets (2019) – $3.3 Billion
Prior to Ishbia splashing the cash, the highest amount paid for an NBA team was Joe Tsai’s $3.3 billion purchase of the Brooklyn Nets in September 2019.
That figure included around $1 billion for the operating licence of Barclays Arena – not every NBA team owns or runs its own home stadium – but even with that amount deducted this purchase would still make number two on the all-time list.
At the time of the sale to Taiwanese-Canadian lawyer and businessman Tsai, the Nets had missed the postseason in three of their previous four campaigns, and they have won just one playoff series since.
The sixth-seeded Nets will play Philadelphia in the first round this season.
Houston Rockets (2017) – $2.2 Billion
Restaurant and casino tycoon Tilman Fertitta won a bidding war against Beyonce of all people to acquire the Houston Rockets in September 2017, with the deal also including ownership of eSports organisation Clutch Gaming.
The Franchise was previously owned by Leslie Alexander, who paid $85 million for them in 1993.
The Rockets are set to finish in the bottom three of the NBA standings this season.
Los Angeles Clippers (2014) – $2 Billion
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer parted with pocket change to buy the LA Clippers for $2 billion in May 2014.
Despite banning his players from using Apple products, Ballmer was voted the best owner in basketball in a survey by The Athletic in December 2020.
Utah Jazz (2020) – $1.6 Billion
The 42-year-old Ryan Smith took over the Jazz in October 2020, agreeing to honour former owner Gail MIller’s wish that the team stay in Utah.
The team began that season with a franchise-record 23 wins in their first 28 games and ended the campaign with the best regular-season record, only to lose in the second round of the playoffs.
For the first time since 2016, the Jazz have missed the postseason this year.