Celtics

Pagliuca: Celtics willing to pay luxury taxes if it means championship contender

Pagliuca: Celtics willing to pay luxury taxes if it means championship contender

The Celtics dealt Avery Bradley in order to sign Gordon Hayward and stay under the salary cap, but is a return to the luxury tax inevitable? 

C’s managing partner Steve Pagliuca told the Boston Herald that the team is willing to spend what it has to it means putting a championship-caliber product on the court. That means next summer could indeed see them enter luxury tax land. 

“I don’t know if it’s inevitable, but if we feel it’s going to help us win a championship, then we will,” Pagliuca told the Herald. “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. But I’m very happy with how it’s gone.”

The Celtics paid luxury taxes in its recent heyday of having star players Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. 

Boston already has two players on max deals in Hayward and Al Horford. Isaiah Thomas could become a third when his contract expires after the coming season. 

The tax rates for non-repeaters, as the Celtics are given that they have not been in the luxury tax for three of the past four seasons, are as follows: 

Team salary above tax level         Tax rate

$1-$4.99 million                               $1.50

$5 million-$9.99 million                  $1.75 

$10 million-$14.99 million             $2.50

$15 million-$19.99 million             $3.25 

$20 million+                                      $3.75

(Tax rate increases 50 cents for each additional $5 million.)

Gordon Hayward offers support to Caris LeVert following gruesome ankle injury

Gordon Hayward offers support to Caris LeVert following gruesome ankle injury

BOSTON – It didn’t take long before footage from Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert’s right ankle injury made its way to Gordon Hayward.

The injury suffered by LeVert on Monday against Minnesota had similarities for many to the season-ending ankle injury suffered by Hayward last year.

“I didn’t see it live,” said Hayward, who has returned to the Celtics lineup this year after missing all of last season following his left ankle/leg injury. “I hate to see that. I heard the timeline (for LeVert’s return) is a little better, but still … he was playing really well. You hate injuries for anybody; it’s tough.”

All things considered, the news is indeed optimistic for LeVert, who is expected to return to the Nets lineup at some point this season.

“Fortunately, tests performed revealed that there are no fractures and only moderate ligament damage,” Nets team orthopedist Dr. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. “While the optics of this injury may have appeared to be more severe, surgery will not be required.”

LeVert, in an attempted chase-down block with 3.7 seconds to play in the first half of Brooklyn’s game against Minnesota, came down hard on his right leg after a collision with Jeff Teague.

He was carted off the court and taken to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.

At the time of his injury, LeVert had 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, the kind of stat line that spoke to the kind of breakout season the third-year guard was having.

In 14 games this season, LeVert is averaging 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists – all career highs.

Hayward was among the many to tweet their support for LeVert as he begins the road to recovery.

“For sure, anytime somebody goes through a major injury you feel for them,” Hayward said. “And what I’ve been through, I know first-hand what it’s like.”

For Hayward, having others reach out to him, both athletes and non-athletes, following his injury last year was extremely beneficial in helping keep his spirits up as he began his journey toward getting back on the basketball floor this season.

“The fact that people cared, especially initially,” Hayward said. “Even people who hadn’t gone through an injury, you’re getting like random people that saw the injury took the time to reach out and show support. That meant a lot to me.”

And he’s willing to be there for LeVert if needed.

“If he ever needs to reach out, he knows how to get a hold of me,” Hayward said.

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Celtics' Jayson Tatum playing better as a sophomore

Celtics' Jayson Tatum playing better as a sophomore

BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum is a victim of his own success. 

One of the top rookies last season, Tatum emerged as a clutch scorer for the Celtics in the playoffs, whether it was knocking down a 3-pointer or going to the rim and dunking on his childhood idol, LeBron James. 

But these first weeks of the season have reminded us that as good as Tatum has been, he too will experience his share of ups and downs on the floor.

That’s why he wasn’t the least bit phased by delivering a season-high 27 points in Boston’s loss at Portland on Sunday. 

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“I never get too excited when I play well,” Tatum said. “I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do. I know I’m gonna make shots eventually. It’s a long season. Some days it just don’t go in.”

Tatum is hoping those days are behind him now that he’s put together a couple of high-scoring, highly efficient scoring games. 

Although Tatum is only shooting 41.3 percent from the field this season, he has connected on at least 50 percent of his shot attempts in the last two games while averaging 24.0 points per game in that stretch.  

It makes sense for him to start breaking out and making shots considering the Celtics rank among the league’s leaders in open shot attempts. 

“We’re gonna hit open shots eventually,” Tatum said. “It’s still pretty early. We’re not trying to make excuses. Guys in here will figure it out.”

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And while there’s understandably a considerable amount of attention given to what Tatum does as a scorer, he’s actually playing better in just about every phase of the game outside of his shooting percentage. 

His scoring, rebounds, assists as well as offensive and defensive ratings, are all better than what he did statistically as a rookie last season. 

But Tatum understands that while the Celtics need him to be an all-around player, he also knows that a big part of what he contributes is directly tied into his ability to make shots at an efficient level. 

That’s’ exactly what he did as a rookie, connecting on 47.5 percent of his field-goal attempts -- including 41.3 percent of his 3-pointers -- while averaging 13.9 points per game. 

Tatum acknowledged that he was in a bit of a shooting funk before breaking out in the last two games, a trend he hopes to continue when Boston returns to the floor to host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. 

He explained part of what has gone into him re-discovering his shooting stroke recently. 

“Just concentrating, going a little bit harder in pre-game routines, getting game-like shots,” Tatum said. 

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Coach Brad Stevens believes Tatum’s turnaround shooting the ball began in the loss to the Jazz.

“He did a much better job of really picking spots and getting the right looks,” Stevens said Friday's defeat in Utah. “He’s a young guy. I thought he handled the last 48 hours great. I was pleased with how he played.”

Stevens had started the second half of Boston’s comeback win at Phoenix the previous night with Marcus Smart in the lineup in place of Tatum. 

Following the game, Stevens said the decision was not an indictment of any particular player but instead a need to jump-start the team, which was by and large was lethargic up to that point. 

But as we’ve seen with Tatum, good play, bad play, it doesn’t matter. 

He is all about that “on to the next one” mantra, where the goal is to simply keep getting better regardless of how ridiculously high the expectations from others may be for him. 

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