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Golden State Warriors sold

The Golden State Warriors owner Chris Cohan reached an agreement to sell the franchise to Boston Celtics minority partner Joe Lacob and Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber, the Associated Press reported Thursday.  The team will change hands to the tune of $450 million, the most ever for an NBA team.  The previous record was $401 million with the 2001 sale of the Phoenix Suns.  Cohan originally bought the team in 1995 for $119 million but was forced to sell after financial difficulties relating to the sale of his previously owned cable company.

In 2009, Forbes estimated the Warriors franchise was worth $315 million based on their sport, market, stadium and brand management.  But, the good news for the team’s new owners is that in 2008 operating income is listed at $11.9 million and player expenses at $70 million while revenue was $113 million (difference of + $31.1 million).  Building-block stars like Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis along with recently acquired forward David Lee give the Warriors a bright future on the court.  The Warriors currently rank 21st in team payroll, a number likely to rise with the change in ownership.

None of this would have mattered had Cohan chose to sell the team to the runner up.  Oracle CEO Larry Ellision, who was considered the favorite to buy the team, has a fortune of an estimated $28 billion according to Forbes.  Cohan must have felt new owners Lacob and Guber will be more hands-on.

“Although I was the highest bidder, Chris Cohan decided to sell to someone else,” Ellision said. “In my experience this is a bit unusual. Nonetheless, I wish the Warriors and their fans nothing but success under their new ownership.”

Not that the team’s new owners are suffering in the dollars-and-cents department, but they are more likely to need a profit than Ellison.  Guber is a producer who was involved in movies such as “Rain Man,” “Batman,” and “The Color Purple.”  Lacob has been involved in sports websites and as previously mentioned, was a minority owner with the Boston Celtics.  Nothing quite like $28 billion there.

On a different note, the Warriors have agreed to send point guard C.J. Watson to the Chicago Bulls for a 2011 second-round pick, multiple team sources told the Bay Area News Group on Tuesday.

The deal was not complete as of press time.

Watson, a restricted free agent, signed a two-year, $7 million deal with the Warriors, who then traded him to the Bulls, a source said. Watson is expected to back up Bulls All-Star point guard Derrick Rose.

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