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Monday, July 15, 2024

NBA Finals Win Would Catapult Mavs, Celtics Owners in Different Ways

  • Dallas and Boston begin the championship series Thursday.
  • The Mavericks are in their first season under new ownership.
esse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The stage is set for the NBA Finals, which begin Thursday, as the Celtics take on the Mavericks, with Dallas trying to accomplish the rare feat of winning a championship in the first year under new ownership. In December, Mark Cuban (above) sold his majority stake in the Mavs to Miriam Adelson and her family in a deal that valued the franchise at $3.5 billion. Now, not even six months later, the team is on the cusp of its second title ever. 

Most recently, the Rockets won the 1994 NBA title (and the ’95 Finals) after Leslie Alexander purchased the franchise for $85 million the previous offseason. In the middle of the 2022–23 season, Mat Ishbia bought the Suns, who made the NBA Finals in ’21, for $4 billion. But despite a blockbuster trade at the deadline for Kevin Durant, Phoenix flamed out in the second round.

Dreamin’ Big in Big D

In the wake of December’s sale, Cuban—who bought the Mavericks for $285 million in 2000—notably said that nothing had really changed “except my bank account.” But the reality is that while Cuban is continuing to oversee basketball operations, his equity in the team is down to 27%.

Sports betting won’t be legal in Texas until at least 2025—and potentially longer—but the big dream for the Mavericks owners is a new arena and casino complex in downtown Dallas. Cuban hasn’t been shy about his desire to re-create a Venetian-like resort, with his basketball team’s venue at the center of it. The Mavs’ lease at American Airlines Center runs through ’31.

Winning the NBA Finals would not only go a long way in creating further positive fan sentiment, but also drive Dallas’s franchise valuation even higher. The previous three NBA champions have seen their valuation grow by an average of $1.25 billion from the season before, according to annual estimations by Forbes.

Costly for the C’s

Not to be forgotten are the Celtics, who just happen to own home court advantage and are the betting favorites (around -225 at many sportsbooks) to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. It would be the first title for Boston since 2008, and the second under the current ownership group, which is led by Wyc Grousbeck who bought the franchise for $360 million in ’02.

This season, the Celtics paid $39.75 million in luxury tax (fifth highest in the NBA) on top of a $183.6 million payroll (fourth highest in the league). For comparison, the Mavericks had the 16th-ranked payroll, $163.6 million, and did not pay luxury tax. Winning a record 18th NBA championship would certainly help Boston justify its projected $193.9 million payroll and nearly $54 million tax bill next season (both figures third in the NBA, according to Spotrac).

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