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Lakers move back to top of list as most valuable franchise

Los Angeles Lakers v Regal FC Barcelona

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: Owner Jerry Buss (2ndR) of the Los Angeles Lakers watches the game during the NBA Europe Live match between Los Angeles Lakers and Regal FC Barcelona at the at Palau Blaugrana on October 7, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

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While the New York Knicks were wallowing in the ditch built by Isiah Thomas, the Los Angeles Lakers moved past them on Forbes Magazine’s list of the most valuable NBA franchises. When the Knicks got their act together the past year or so (relatively, at least) they vaulted back to the top of the list.

But the Lakers got a massive new cable deal and are back on top.

The Lakers are worth $900 million by Forbes estimates, up 40 percent year over year. What moved them into the top spot was a new local television deal with Time Warner Cable to broadcast their games, one that reportedly will pay the Buss family franchise nearly $200 million a year for 20 years (for comparison, the entire Milwaukee franchise is estimated at $268 million). Even with the new league revenue sharing rules, the Lakers will be rich.

The Knicks are not hurting, worth an estimated $790 million, up 19 percent over last season. They have a renovated Madison Square Garden where they jacked up ticket prices 49 percent for this season, just to help that bottom line. Which is working, the Knicks turned a league best $75 million profit last year, Forbes estimates.

The rest of your top five are: Chicago Bulls ($600 million), Dallas Mavericks ($479 million) and the Boston Celtics ($482 million.). The Heat are sixth ($457 million), once again finishing behind the Mavericks.

At the other end of the scale are your bottom five: The Charlotte Bobcats ($272 million), Minnesota Timberwolves ($272 million), Atlanta Hawks ($270 million), Memphis Grizzlies ($269 million) and the Milwaukee Bucks ($268 million).

That disparity of wealth played into the lockout and is only getting worse, Forbes notes.