Ringer CEO/Founder Bill Simmons has always been a self-confessed Lakers despiser, though he’s lived in enemy territory since 2003, when he moved to the City of Angels to become a writer on The Jimmy Kimmel Show. His staunch Boston sports fandom is one of the cornerstones of his excellent self-titled podcast.
In last night’s new episode, Simmons broke the decision by Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury majority owner Robert Sarver to sell both teams, under pressure from LeBron James, Chris Paul, NBPA Director Tamika Tremaglio and President CJ McCollum and behind the scenes ( per Simmons), League Commissioner Adam Silver, and Charlotte Hornets majority owner/Chicago Bulls GOAT Michael Jordan.
In doing so, Simmons looked at what he believes to be the eight most desirable NBA clubs and what the escalating costs of owning those clubs could look like in the short-term future.
The top eight according to Simmons: the New York Knicks (yes, even), your Los Angeles Lakers, his 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 aren’t making the cut as clear-cut second-tier NBA franchises in their own cities.
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Simmons also repeated a claim he’s been making for months: his prediction that the league will soon expand to include new franchises in Seattle and Las Vegas.
Given Phoenix’s proximity to Los Angeles and Northern California, Simmons predicts the premier NBA club could attract significant interest from big-money buyers in California.
“Phoenix is a Mecca for rich men. Incredible fans, you have a whole story, you put Devin Booker on the spot. But the big thing – it’s an hour from LA and an hour from the Bay Area. They can attract any rich guy from either of those places and they can fly in and be the owner of the team. This rating will be much higher than people think. I told you about the Clippers eight years ago, and I’m telling you now. The Suns are valued at over $4 billion. Mark my words, you can throw it in my face if I’m wrong; I’m not wrong I think it can be close to 5 billion. I think it will be in the $4.5 billion to $5 billion range… My prediction, I’ll log it. The Suns, I’ll say $4.7 [billion].”
In the immediate future, that would be a drastic overpayment. But it would also represent some sort of investment in the projected future value of the team. Forbes currently forecasts the Suns’ value at $1.8 billion, while Sportico puts the team’s value at $1.92 billion.
So where are the Lakers should the Buss siblings decide to sell? Forbes lists the Lakers’ net worth this season at $5.5 billion, a stunning 20% increase from the team’s otherwise ill-fated 2021-22 season. Forbes also notes that the club earned $316 million last year. As Simmons notes, the NBA will reap the rewards of a lucrative new TV deal during the 2025 offseason. So if the Suns could fetch up to $3 billion more than their current “value,” would the league’s highest-performing team ever follow suit in a sale and take them into the $8.5 billion-plus range? We may not know for a while as the Buss family appear keen on keeping the club for the time being.