According to Forbes, the Los Angeles Lakers dropped from being the most valuable NBA franchise to no. 2, behind the New York Knicks. LA is still worth a whopping $2.7 billion and remains the most profitable franchise due to a 20-year television deal with Time Warner Cable worth $3.6 billion.
The New York Knicks ($3 billion) claimed the top spot off the Lakers after New York entered into a new cable deal to go along with the highest premium-seating revenue in the NBA. New York and LA may not instantly attract the best talent on the court anymore, but the owners likely aren't complaining considering they're still cashing in.
On the court, the Lakers have not put out anything close to a winning product for going on three seasons, so ratings have suffered. However, Forbes reports the average audience size watching Laker games measured at 122,000 viewers, which still ranks second in the NBA.
On the same day that Forbes announced its NBA valuations, the NBA also released its rankings of top NBA merchandise and top-selling jerseys. Only Stephen Curry and LeBron James sold more jerseys than Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who is on his farewell tour of the NBA. In a related note, the Lakers rank fourth in the NBA in terms of most popular team merchandise, behind the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. How far LA will fall when Bryant retires at season's end remains to be seen, but the value of the franchise is largely influenced by the team's television deal, rather than wins or star-power on the court.
The LA Clippers may share the LA market, but Chris Paul ranks no. 14 in terms of jersey sales and is the only Clippers' player in the top 15. Overall, the Clippers rank 10th in terms of most popular team merchandise. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer paid a staggering $2 billion to buy the franchise, and Forbes continues to value the Clippers at $2 billion, which puts LA's second team at no. 5 on the Forbes list.
Overall, the average NBA franchise is now valued at $1.25 billion.