James Dolan Says He'd Consider Selling Knicks for 'Bona Fide Offer'

Lead singer and guitar player in renowned band JD and the Straight Shot may finally relinquish control of the team in his second gig as owner of the Knicks.

Steve Millers, James Dolan

Image via Getty/Garrett Ellwood/NBAE

Steve Millers, James Dolan

Long-suffering Knicks JD and the Straight Shot fans might eventually have their deified lead singer fully immersed in the blues. In a two-hour chat with ESPN's Ian O'Connor that dropped on Monday, Knicks owner James Dolan touched on the possibility he might sell the team.

Dolan has put the WNBA's New York Liberty up for sale, and he told O'Connor he's got a fiduciary responsibility to the board that might necessitate he sell the team, should "a bona fide offer" actually appear. And it seems an offer of $5 billion isn't bona fide (Latin for "in good faith").

"No one has come through with a bona fide offer," Dolan told ESPN in the rare interview. "You hear numbers all the time...I think people have sent feelers out, but never any that were pursued. Yeah, [the feelers are] around that number [$5 billion], but those things, it's like a stock price. It's only important if you're going to buy or sell."

In Forbes' annual NBA valuations this past February, the Knicks—due mainly to their connection to MSG Network and a refurbished MSG—were the most valued franchise in the NBA for the third year in a row, worth an estimated $3.6 billion. That was a nine percent increase from 2017 after taking in $426 million in revenue (more than $50 million more than the No. 2 team on the list, the Lakers) and doling out just $140 million in operating costs. Our math is hazy, but if that 3.6 billion increased by another nine percent for 2019's valuation, the Knicks would be worth just shy of $4 billion ($3.924 billion). So, um, $5 billion is already acting in good faith, you see.

As to why Dolan might part with the beloved orange and blue, it comes down to his responsibility to the shareholders as the head of the board. 

"I love the Knicks and Rangers, right, but you still have a responsibility to your shareholders," he said. "They're not there because they're fans. You don't invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a stock because you're a fan. You do it because you think that the business is going to increase in value, that the stock price is going to go up." This is all true, which is weird to hear from Dolan.

"And so in that position, I could never say that I wouldn't consider selling the Knicks," he said. "Now, my family is not in that position, and they are the majority shareholders...As a majority owner, I don't want to sell, either. As the head of the public company, you can't say you can't sell, because then you're telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money. And they won't invest with you if you do that."

Dolan's reps reached out about the story to say this: "As we have previously stated, there are no plans to sell the Knicks."

Now if only Knicks fans could get James Dolan to care as much about the team as he does about the Almighty Dollar, then maybe he actually sells. However, there's at least one bright side to all the incompetence and losing. He finally seems to understand he should stop trying to run the basketball team (and instead focus on his...music).

"I think the Knicks franchise is somewhat burdened by its history," he said without a hint of irony before name-dropping a player—Dave DeBusschere—When the Garden is Eden fans would know and love in a transparent attempt at credibility with the plebes hawking tickets on Seventh Ave (They aren't falling for it).

"I was searching to get out of the job...I wasn't the general manager, and I wasn't the president," he continued. "I was the guy still in the position I'm in now. I was still approving deals, and I got more involved than I certainly am now. But the more you get involved, you start to learn what you don't know. I became convinced that I didn't think I could add anything to it." 

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