clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Discussion topic: Should fans care if the Celtics pay the luxury tax or not?

“It’s not my money” is a common refrain from fans

Chicago Bulls v Boston Celtics Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Celtics are close enough to the luxury tax line to make a move or two and get below the line. In the past, the Celtics ownership group has made it clear that they would pay the tax for a contending team.

Here’s a blurb from an article by Keith Smith in 2018:

Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck recently said “We’re hoping to pay for performance. We’re prepared to do whatever is takes to win again”. Celtics fans have no reason to doubt Grousbeck on the willingness to spend. Ownership paid the tax for five straight seasons from 2008 through 2013 to keep the Pierce/Garnett window open for as long as they could; they paid over $47 million in tax alone, on top of regular salary, to do so. The Celtics leadership group, from Grousbeck to Ainge to Brad Stevens, understands that to win titles you have to pay for it.

However, if the team isn’t close to winning a championship, it only makes business sense to avoid the tax. In fact, it goes beyond the bottom line dollars and cents. In some respects, there are strategic advantages to avoiding the tax. There is more transaction flexibility for non-tax paying teams.

Furthermore, there’s the potential quid pro quo between a GM and the owners. Theoretically a GM could save the owners millions of dollars one year in exchange for going all in with extra tax dollars in the future.

On the other hand, an owner with deep, deep pockets can take the luxury tax hits and keep coming with more cash. Some might argue that owning a sports team should have different priorities than your typical business. That the goal of any team should be winning, despite the cost. Furthermore, it is hard to feel sorry for a billionaire owner losing a few million here and there, knowing that the value of the franchise has risen over the years to the point where they’ll be able to sell for a windfall profit whenever they get bored of the sport.

So I’ll throw this out as a topic of discussion. Should fans actually care if the team pays the luxury tax or not?