The Boston Celtics already have a heavy salary commitment for the 2022-23 season but a willingness to spend even further into the luxury tax could allow the team to easily patch in-season holes in a quest to return to the NBA Finals.
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck told the Boston Globe this week that president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has the green light to continue spending as needed to construct a title contender.
Once the Celtics fill two of the three currently vacant roster spots, the team will sit at nearly $173 million in total salary commitment and will be paying at least $3.75 for every dollar spent while sitting $20-plus million over the tax line. Boston’s total roster spend will soon be around $220 million.
But Grousbeck suggested the team is willing to splurge even more if necessary.
"I think we’re spending about $200 million on the roster this year, and Brad has the green light to spend more," Grousbeck told the Globe. "People can write or think whatever they want. Or, you can actually look at what we do, which is do whatever we possibly can to win a championship. And we’re in the mode right now of completely adding on. Are you going to trade future draft picks and young players under 30? Hopefully not. But money is not a consideration whatsoever, and this roster shows that."
The Celtics have a handful of exceptions that could be utilized to add talent during the season. If Boston could stomach an even more bloated salary total, it opens avenues to add talent at something higher than a minimum contract.
Those assets include the Juancho Hernangomez traded player exception at $6.9 million and the Dennis Schroder traded player exception at $5.9 million (both expire in February). Boston could also soon have a $3.2 million disabled player exception with offseason addition Danilo Gallinari likely sidelined for the season after an ACL tear. That DPE could be valuable in luring a buyout player at something more than what most contenders can offer.
Given the steep luxury tax levels, spending even that $3.2 million exception ends up costing roughly $12 million depending on Boston’s total spend. But the team simply has avenues of adding talent without having to match outgoing salary.
The Golden State Warriors had a total spend of $337.8 million last season while paying a $170 million luxury tax bill as part of their championship season.
The Celtics consistently spent into the tax from 2008-2013 while competitive in the most recent Big Three era. Before this season, they had paid the tax only one other time since: The talent-jumbled 2018-19 season that featured a second-round playoff exit.