Ringer CEO/founder Bill Simmons has always been an outspoken Lakers detester, despite having lived in enemy territory since 2003, when he moved to the City of Angels to become a writer on “The Jimmy Kimmel Show.” His Boston sports fandom is a mainstay of his excellent self-titled podcast.
In last night’s new episode, Simmons broke down Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury majority owner Robert Sarver’s decision to sell both teams, after pressure from LeBron James, Chris Paul, NBPA director Tamika Tremaglio and president CJ McCollum, and, behind the scenes (by Simmons), league commissioner Adam Silver and Charlotte Hornets/Chicago Bulls GOAT majority owner Michael Jordan.
In the process, Simmons shed some light on what he believes are the eight most desirable clubs in the NBA to own, and what the rising costs of owning these clubs could look like in the near-term future.
The top eight, by Simmons: the New York Knicks (yes, still), the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, the Golden State Warriors, the Dallas Mavericks, the Miami Heat, and the Phoenix Suns. Simmons notes that despite their robust media markets, the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers don’t make the cut, like the NBA franchises in the background in their own cities.
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Simmons also reiterated a statement he’s been making for months: his prediction that the league will expand to new franchises in Seattle and Las Vegas soon.
Given Phoenix’s proximity to Los Angeles and Northern California, Simmons predicts the NBA’s premier club could attract significant interest from major buyers in California.
“Phoenix is the mecca of the rich. Amazing fans, you’ve got a whole story, you’ve got Devin Booker in place. But the big thing – it’s an hour from LA and an hour from the Bay Area. You can attract all the rich guys from those two places and they can fly away and own the team. This rating goes much higher than people think. I told you this with the Clippers eight years ago, and I’m telling you now. The Suns will be valued at more than $4 billion. Mark my words, you can throw it in my face if I’m wrong; I’m not wrong. I think it could get close to 5 billion. I think it will be in the range of US$ 4.5 to US$ 5 billion… My forecast, I will record. The Suns, I’ll say, $4.7 [billion].”
In the immediate future, that would be a drastic overpayment. But it would also represent a kind of investment in the projected future value of the team. Currently, Forbes projects the Suns to be worth $1.8 billion, while Sportico estimates the team’s value at $1.92 billion.
So where does that leave the Lakers, should the Buss brothers choose to sell? Forbes lists the Lakers’ net worth at $5.5 billion this season, a staggering 20% increase over the team’s ill-fated 2021-22. Forbes also notes that the club raised $316 million last year. As Simmons notes, the NBA is set to reap the rewards of a lucrative new TV deal during the 2025 offseason. So if the Suns could reach $3 billion more than their current “value,” the winningest team in the NBA Would the league follow suit in a sale, putting them in the range of $8.5 billion or more? We may not know for a while as the Buss family seems to be interested in keeping the club going for the time being.