Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has agreed to sell a majority stake in his NBA franchise to Miriam Adelson, the billionaire widow of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and her family. The deal, which values the Mavericks at around $3.5 billion, will see Cuban retain an ownership share and control over basketball operations.
A Transformational Deal for the Mavericks
The agreement marks a monumental shift for the Mavericks franchise. Cuban purchased the team in 2000 for $285 million and transformed them into a perennial playoff contender. The Adelson family will now take over the majority ownership while allowing Cuban to continue managing basketball decisions.
For Adelson, acquiring an NBA team further cements her family’s status among the world’s wealthiest sports owners. Miriam Adelson’s net worth stands at nearly $33 billion since inheriting her husband Sheldon’s stake in Las Vegas Sands, one of the largest casino and resort companies globally.
While an NBA team owner herself, Adelson is no stranger to investing in professional sports franchises. Her family has ownership stakes in clubs across soccer, baseball and rugby. With the Mavericks deal, she gains a foothold in yet another top-tier sports league.
Cuban Retains Influence Over Mavericks’ Basketball Operations
Despite selling a controlling interest, Mark Cuban will stay intimately involved with the Mavericks. As part of the agreement, Cuban holds onto his position overseeing basketball operations – including player transactions, drafting and trades.
Cuban has earned praise for spearheading the Mavericks’ player recruitment and roster building over the past two decades. After years of losing seasons throughout the 1990s, Cuban’s arrival and subsequent moves laid the foundation for the franchise’s first NBA championship in 2011 led by Dirk Nowitzki.
Recently, Cuban oversaw the 2018 acquisition of Luka Dončić in the draft and 2023 trade for Kyrie Irving – both considered franchise stars expected to contend for titles. His retention ensures the Mavericks can still leverage his knack for wheeling and dealing roster pieces.
Adelson Family Cashes Out Sands Stock to Fund Purchase
To finance the multi-billion dollar agreement, the Adelson family disclosed the sale of $2 billion worth of Las Vegas Sands shares. While maintaining controlling interest, selling a portion of their shares allows the family to free up capital for buying into the Mavericks.
The decision aligns with moves over recent months to diversity the family’s investments beyond the casino and hospitality sector through sports franchise purchases. Between the Mavericks deal and ongoing development of a new casino resort in Texas, the Adelsons appear focused on expanding their sports and gaming footprint.
Purchase Price Reflects Explosion in NBA Valuations
The $3.5 billion price tag for the Mavericks reflects the NBA’s soaring team valuations over the past decade. As recently as 2012, Forbes estimated the franchise’s worth at $497 million. The seven-fold increase over ten years signifies intense demand from investors and new owners to buy into the high-revenue league.
Spurring the growth is the NBA’s $24 billion media rights deal signed in 2014 alongside thriving sponsorships, merchandising and global popularity. With stars like Dončić expanding the sport’s reach worldwide, team valuations show no signs of slowing despite Cuban’s concerns over changing media landscapes threatening profits.
Recent NBA Ownership Deals Set Table for Adelson Agreement
On the heels of several other NBA team sales in 2022, the Adelson family secured yet another lucrative franchise purchase agreement. A series of deals involving ownership transfers paved the way for the Mavericks acquisition:
- In April 2022, Jimmy Haslam bought a stake in the Milwaukee Bucks franchise alongside primary governor Marc Lasry.
- Two months later, billionaire hedge fund manager Michael Jordan agreed to become majority governor of the Charlotte Hornets through his MJ Holdings firm.
- Over the summer, Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis sold a 5% share of his Monumental Sports company to the Qatar Investment Authority.
With NBA teams selling for record figures, the Adelsons seized on the opportunity to plant their flag in Dallas with Cuban’s Mavericks.
Move Comes After Failed Talks for Casino Project
Ironically, Miriam Adelson only gained controlling interest in the Mavericks after earlier discussions with Cuban to jointly develop a resort and casino floundered. According to reporting last year, Cuban proposed teaming up with Las Vegas Sands on a new entertainment complex potentially connected to the Mavericks’ home arena.
But with gambling still illegal in the state of Texas, legislative roadblocks likely thwarted any hopes of bringing a casino tied to the NBA franchise. Instead of a joint construction project, the families joined forces by merging ownership of the team itself in a $3.5 billion transaction.
What the Deal Means for Mavericks’ Future
While the dollars are record-shattering, does the Adelson family’s majority acquisition impact the Mavericks’ future outlook? The consensus suggests an optimistic view prevails.
Cuban still directs personnel decisions as Head of Basketball Operations. Dončić and Irving seem re-energized and ready to contend this year. And turning profits in the years ahead appears almost guaranteed given the Mavericks’ rising popularity both locally and globally.
If anything, the new ownership provides Cuban even greater liquidity to keep spending on elite talent acquisitions. With the Adelsons assuming a majority financial stake, Cuban gains more flexibility to pursue expensive roster upgrades under the luxury tax threshold.
Between the franchise’s existing foundation and renewed financial firepower, the Mavericks find themselves gearing up for a new era bound to build on years of Cuban-led success. An incoming member of the NBA’s $100 billion club now stands ready to further accelerate the team’s pursuit of greatness.