NBA salary cap guru says the league's new collective bargaining agreement has hurt the Celtics

Graph via SB Nation

Trying to fully comprehend all the nuances of the NBA's salary cap is an incredibly daunting task.  One of the few (and possibly only) humans on the planet who has a complete knowledge of how it works is computer scientist/Information Technology Director at UC Irvine, Larry Coon.  In his spare time Coon maintains a website dedicated to the ins and outs of the league's salary cap and collective bargaining agreement.  Coon recently wrote an article for ESPN insider describing who the winners and losers are under the most recent CBA (from 2011) so far.  He's got the Celtics firmly planted in the "loser" category (quote via Jay King of Mass Live):
"Under the previous CBA, the Celtics were willing and able to spend; for example, they were taxpayers in each of the previous six seasons. But now that the progressive tax is kicking in, the team's spending habits are changing. Under the previous system, the Celtics might have tried to keep their nucleus together for at least one more season, adding players in order to stay competitive. Pierce probably would have retired a Celtic under the old system. Under the new agreement, the Celtics are no longer able to keep up with the haves and are dropping back to join the rest of the pack."

When the old CBA was in place teams had to pay an equal amount in luxury tax for every dollar they spent above the threshold; so if the Celtics were $10 million over they owed the league an extra $10 mil.  But under the current system the rate has increases to 1.5 times the difference when a team exceeds the limit by up to $5 million, and then get's progressively higher for each additional $5 million over the threshold.  Not to mention the fact if you fall under the new "repeater penalty" (paying the tax in 3 out of 4 years) the base rate starts at 2.5 times the difference.

Basically the luxury tax now costs a lot more that it used to, and the farther past it you go (as well as the more often you do it) the higher your rate becomes.  Coon is saying that this has been motivation enough for the Celtics to get underneath the tax line (which they did by waiving Donte Greene last week), and not spend money in the same ways they did in recent years.  If they stay below the line this season and next it will also prevent them for paying the repeater penalty any time soon.

I agree that the new CBA definitely had an influence on the Celtics roster decisions this past offseason, but I disagree with the notion that they are worse off because of it.  Maybe it hurts them today, but you'd be hard pressed to make the case that overspending and getting the band back together one more time would have actually been in the franchises long term best interests.

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