Celtics ownership group ready to pay the luxury tax to compete

Steve Pagliuca and Barack Obama
More than a few fanbases would happily trade ownership groups with the Boston Celtics.

Over the last several years, the league has increasingly morphed into something of an arms race, with teams loading up on star contracts and then populating their roster with whatever detritus they can find on veteran minimum deals. The key, it seems, required to contend these days is a willingness to spend, and spend not just on rosters themselves, but the tax bill generated by going well over the cap. Teams are poised to not only break the Brooklyn Nets 2014 tax and roster cost record of $197 million, but shatter it.

The Golden State Warrior's tax bill and salaries may reach as high as $300 million by 2019-21, and a reluctance to pony up an amount similar to that of the 2014 Nets may be the driving force behind the turmoil engulfing the Cleveland Cavaliers organization as Dan Gilbert appears to be unwilling to support such spending with little apparent chances of creating a title-winning team after Kevin Durant joined the Warriors.

So hearing the Celtics ownership publicly state they are willing to pay the luxury tax next season and beyond if contention is a realistic possibility is nothing short of wonderful, given it means 1) a chance to watch our favorite team play some exciting, high-level basketball, and 2) not having to endure the tantalizing but ultimately depressing rollercoasters some fanbases do when the talent is poised to take that step but the owners refuse to pay for it (coughOklahomaCityThundercough).

Said Steve Pagliuca (one of the owners of the Celts) of paying the tax (per the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy):

"I don’t know if it’s inevitable, but if we feel it’s going to help us win a championship, then we will,” he said. “We have a history of doing what we need to do to win ... But you have to be careful - if you sign people to bad contracts, it’s going to preclude you from signing other players ... I think [Danny Ainge and the front office] have come up with a really good mix of veterans and young talent."

When asked about the impact of the 2016 cap spike and it's current shrinkage and projected flat growth, Pagliuca said (again, per Murphy):

"There was a time when teams had lots of cap space with the increase in revenues ... Now we’re entering a period where cap management becomes imperative ... we’re going back to the future, where people had to work hard for cap space."

Indeed, the Celtics are looking like one of the few teams who were conservative with their payroll when the league was flush with the money generated by a massive rebroadcasting deal between the NBA, ESPN, and other partners. But after the revenue did not keep pace with projected growth in subsequent years, inhibiting the amount of money available for teams to pay players in the future, those same teams are now poised to reap the benefits of other team's mistakes.

It is not entirely wrong to suggest that poor management may ultimately prove more successful to removing the Cavaliers as an obstacle for the Celtics on their road to the NBA Finals than any roster Boston has managed to construct since LeBron James return to that club from the Miami Heat.

For more stories about the offseason on CelticsLife, click here. For more by Justin, click here.

Follow Justin at @justinquinnn