The NBA has announced a nine-year partnership with TNT and ESPN to broadcast more NBA games through the 2024-2025 season worth nearly $25 billion, tripling its previous deal with the networks.
The deal promises 64 games on TNT (an increase from 52), 45 playoff games in the first two rounds, 85 games on ESPN (up from 70), and a host of other mutual benefits. You can read the full release here.
So how does this affect the Nets?
For one, there’s ownership. The Los Angeles Clippers sold for $2 billion earlier this summer, partially to oust disgraced owner Donald Sterling out as fast as possible, but also with the promise of this TV deal on the horizon for new owner Steve Ballmer. Now it’s no longer a promise, it’s a firm number, and that firm number is gigantic.
With the NBA slated to make an incredible amount of money in the new television deal, owners looking to sell their teams have never had a higher valuation. Enter the Nets, who have reportedly engaged the Guggenheim partners in discussion about a “combination of assets” that would combine Brooklyn Nets ownership with Los Angeles Dodgers ownership.
The details of the combination are unclear, and could change in an instant depending on either side’s desires. If Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants to sell his stake in the Nets franchise, his return could be 15 times his original investment of about $200 million. If they merely decide on some sort of partnership with Guggenheim, the proprietors of the Brooklyn Dodgers trademark, there’s still an incredible amount of money to be made off that branding alone, and the ability to cross-brand the Nets & Brooklyn Dodgers could drive the price up further.
This also means big changes to the NBA’s salary cap in 2016-2017, when the Nets have only Deron Williams’s early termination option and rookie scale/taxpayer mid-level contracts on their books. That’s also the summer when reigning MVP Kevin Durant becomes a free agent, and with the entire NBA drooling over the possibility of adding the league’s best scorer in his prime, the Nets will have the space to make him a maximum offer (whatever that might be), and still have enough room under the cap to fill out their rotation.
The Nets have intentionally avoided adding salary beyond that offseason for that reason; starting anew in 2016 has always been the plan. That’ll be the first major offseason in free agency for the team since they moved to Brooklyn; in 2010, they had visions of LeBron James and Wade, only to end up with Travis Outlaw and Jordan Farmar. But in 2016, the Brooklyn brand will have had an impact for four seasons. If the market really makes a difference, that’s when we’ll find out.