Timberwolves one of handful of NBA teams to lose money last season
A season that began with such optimism ended in bitter, familiar disappointment for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and that feeling reportedly translated into a financial loss for the organization.
Grantland's stellar NBA reporter Zach Lowe somehow obtained and verified "a confidential memo the league sent to all 30 teams in early June" that breaks down each team's estimated profits or losses for the 2013-14 season, and according to it, the Timberwolves were one of only nine teams to lose money. (Lowe, regrettably, doesn't include the full memo in his report.)
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The Timberwolves lost roughly $6 million last year, according to Lowe's document. That was the sixth biggest loss of any team. Here were the other eight teams in that category:
Orlando ($2 million loss)
Sacramento ($3 million)
New York ($3.5 million)
Charlotte ($8 million)
Detroit ($12 million)
Atlanta ($13 million)
D.C. ($13 million)
Brooklyn ($144 million -- holy shit!)
During a podcast with Lowe, ESPN analyst Bill "Sports Guy" Simmons cited TV deals and revenue from courtside seats as two big factors impacting teams' bottom lines, but ticket sales certainly play a role as well. And in that regard, somewhat surprisingly given the buzz surrounding the team headed into the season, the 2013-14 Wolves sold less tickets than any iteration of the team in recent years.
Here's the year-by-year average attendance for the Wolves, along with where the team ranked relative to the NBA's 30 teams:
2009-10: 15,101 (25th)
2010-11: 15,242 (24th)
2012 (lockout shortened season): 17,490 (15th)
2012-13: 16,340 (21st)
2013-14: 14,564 (27th)
On the other end of the spectrum, Lowe reports that the most profitable team in the NBA this season was the suddenly terrible (at least on the court) Los Angeles Lakers, with $100.1 million in profits. Here's the rest of the top five:
2. Chicago ($61 million)
3. Houston ($40.7 million)
4. Boston ($33.1 million)
5. Oklahoma City ($29 million)
In January, Forbes valued the Timberwolves at about $430 million , which ranked 26th in the NBA. That's not impressive, but here's a tidbit that is -- team owner Glen Taylor only paid $88 million for the team back in 1995. Talk about good return on an investment!
In other Timberwolves-related news, Taylor officially became the owner of the Star Tribune yesterday. To put the Wolves' $6 million loss in context, consider Taylor paid about $100 million for the Strib and spent roughly $75 million on Wolves player salaries. In other words, for him, $6 million is a relative drop in the bucket.
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