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Both Celtics GM Danny Ainge and owner Wyc Grousbeck badly want another Championship under their belts.

It has been 10 years since the last one, and it may be time to aggressively pursue Banner #18. Money, or lack of it, can get into the way of a lot of ventures, and an NBA Trophy is no different.

Most NBA teams are over the salary cap this season, but few are up to the luxury tax level. But what teams really want to avoid is the repeater tax. Things start to really get costly at that point.

Teams can no longer have the luxury of failing to plan ahead. They need to think years down the road, and here is why. Teams that drift into luxury tax territory not only have to pay salaries and the luxury tax penalty, they have to pay an additional repeater tax if they pay the luxury tax (LT) in at least three of the previous four seasons.

This is how it breaks down for the Celtics. If they go over the LT this coming season, which is projected to be 123 million, they can also go over it again in 2019-20, but would then be forced to go under the LT level for the following two seasons (2020-21 & 2021-22) in order to avoid the repeater tax.

The team would also have the option of going above the LT level for 2018-19 - below it for 2019-20 - and keep this above/below scheme going forever. Either course works, but long-term planning is mandatory.


The NBA has a soft cap, meaning that a team can go over the salary cap, and even beyond that into the luxury tax bracket, but they will have to pay a steep price if they go beyond the LT too often.

Justin Quinn's CelticsLife article on retaining Aron Baynes is worth reading. If the right deal can be reached with Aron his signing would be a great initial step towards the upcoming season. Bringing back Marcus Smart works very well for all parties, but it could end up being a bad contract if the price is too high.

The contracts of both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford end with the finish of the 2019-20 season. Kyrie will demand a max salary, but Al may take a significant reduction to remain with the team. Terry Rozier, whose contract expires at the end of the impending season, will most likely be seeking a large contract starting the following season. Danny Ainge rarely extends rookies, so Terry could be retained for this coming season for what he brings to the team or be involved in a trade, possibly connected with the Celtics moving up in the upcoming draft.

It may make sense for the Celtics to spend their money this season and next to aggressively go after Championships in one or hopefully both years. That will certainly happen if Danny sees some deals that he can't pass up. If those deals never surface, this team as currently constructed should be powerful. Filling out the roster with draft picks and seasoned veterans at low cost should also work. This latter course will push paying the luxury tax another year down the road, allowing for more flexibility in the following seasons.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Darren McCollister/Getty Images

Tom Lane 5/30/2018 11:41:00 AM Edit
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