One of the more popular subjects this NBA season has been to debate the merit of the max contract, and by extension to try and suss out exactly how much LeBron James would be paid if there was no salary cap. His impact on the value of an NBA team, on the other hand, has received considerably less coverage. With the news that he’s heading back to Cleveland, James may have singlehandedly pushed the Cavaliers into the rarified air of a billion-dollar NBA team — along with the Clippers, the Lakers, the Knicks, and the Dallas Mavericks (at least, Mark Cuban has gone on the record saying that he would be crazy to sell his team for less than that).
The new value for the Cavs, reported by Bloomberg, is significantly larger than it was when James last played for Cleveland, in 2010, when the team was reportedly worth $447 million, a figure that fell all the way down to $355 million after The Decision, per Forbes. Earlier this year, the magazine estimated that the Cleveland team’s worth was $515 million. That was before the return of the king (or The Silmarillion), though.
“For a mid-size market, the revenues were outperforming the market,” Chad Estis told Bloomberg, reflecting on LeBron’s initial run with the Cavaliers. “You get to a point where everything will be sold out, then you increase prices, certainly local sponsors, suite renewal is better if you win and the potential long-term effect for the brand if you win a championship.”