One of the reasons for the lockout in 2011 was that the small market teams wanted to make sure the big market teams wouldn't have a stranglehold on all the talent with the money they can offer, taxes be damned.
To combat this, language was put in place where teams that are over the luxury tax for a certain number of years in a row or were tax payers for a number of years within the same block of seasons would be charged an exorbitant amount in order to discourage the bigger teams from spending whatever they want.
The first year of the repeater tax (2015) will only apply to teams that were also taxpayers in the three previous seasons — 2011-12 through 2013-14. So right now, only Boston and the Lakers are candidates. The Celtics will probably stay out of the tax this season, and the Lakers are clearing the books next summer. So I don’t think any team will be a repeater in 2015.
Starting in 2016 a team is a repeater if they were taxpayers in any three of the previous four seasons (for 2016 that’d be 2011-12 through 2014-15). That means any team that was a taxpayer in either 2012 or 2013 would be a repeater if they are a taxpayer in both 2014 and 2015. Most teams will be able to avoid the repeater penalty. A few teams like Brooklyn probably won’t care.
The system is set up — well, “set up” is probably a bad way to put it. I don’t think they did it intentionally — so that two years out of the tax buys you three years IN the tax without being a repeater. I think many teams will adopt this strategy.
I think Prokhorov is committed to building a winner whatever the cost. He probably sees the repeater tax as more of an opportunity than an impediment.
Take a team like the Celtics, for instance, who had no problem committing to payroll that would put them over the tax threshold when they were trying to contend for a title over the last few seasons. They’re rebuilding this year and next at minimum, but after those two years out of the tax, they could add free agents and load up for another run at a title by spending whatever it costs for the next three seasons, all the while avoiding the dreaded repeater tax.
While this all sounds good for fans of big market teams or teams with owners who don't care about losing money to tax and want to win at all costs, it does present a problem. In fact, it's the same problem that the CBA was trying to address. Using this loophole, the rich teams keep spending and taking the talent from the smaller teams and all that balance that the league was hoping remains a pipe dream.
It stands to reason that this problem will have to be addressed when a new CBA has to be created, either when the current one runs out in 2020 or if either the players or the owners opt out in 2016. Could this cause another lockout? Doubtful, as most of the issues during the negotiations last time around were focused on revenue sharing between the players and owners and not on parity in the league. So, for now, expect the Celtics to keep spending and competing at a high level, just not for several years in a row.