Probably the most unexpected news from the NBA this season comes straight from the heart of Texas.
Mark Cuban, who has been the owner/governor of the Dallas Mavericks since buying the franchise in 2000, has agreed to sell a majority stake to the Miriam Adelson and her family, which made its fortune from casinos. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Cuban is selling the team on a valuation of $3.5 billion but will actually retain full control of the franchise and retain all of his shares.
The deal, of course, must be approved by the majority of Cuban’s fellow owners/governors.
Cuban has managed to pull off the rare feat of having his cake and eating it too when it comes to selling a team. Nearly every other person who has sold the majority shares of a team also loses decision-making control over its future even if they retain some minority ownership. That was most recently the case for the Charlotte Hornets after Michael Jordan sold the team in June. However, Cuban doesn’t lose his control of the club, which keeps him involved in both team and league affairs. With one prominent owner having relinquished his position at some important league boards, commissioner Adam Silver may be pleased that he could still call upon Cuban, whose media and technology acumen can only benefit the league going forward.
The Adelson family is no stranger to sports. Sheldon, the late husband of Miriam who died in 2021, was called “the driving force” behind the relocation of the Raiders to Las Vegas as he committed some of the initial funding for Allegiant Stadium. Although he would pull out of the deal (for speculated reasons), the franchise credits the casino magnate for enticing state officials to enact a hotel tax as part of the public financing for the stadium.
NBA team valuations continue to rise as the league approaches the end of its current broadcast media rights deals in 2025. The new deals, which the league hopes totals around $7 billion, will do even more to increase those values. Yet nothing resets the market for a franchise quite like the sale of the last one, and with Cuban netting more than 10 times his original investment over 23 years, the next team that goes on sale may be bought for an unfathomable amount.