Heading into the February 14 trade deadline there was a lot of rhetoric surrounding the Boston Celtics’ desire to get under the luxury tax.
From the moment the Celtics traded away Juancho Hernangomez in a three-team deal, you knew that Boston was looking to duck a tax bill, and for most fans, that meant the front office wasn’t willing to go deep into their pockets.
“I think the reality was if we could do things that would be thoughtful and prudent, we would try but there was no mandate. Wyc, Pags, everyone had been very clear that wasn’t a mandate at all,” Brad Stevens said in a recent interview with Masslive’s Brian Robb.
The reality is, you don’t want to pay the tax for a team that isn’t a surefire contender. It’s the same as paying full price for a used item, it’s not the common convention. Alas, when it comes to the world of sports, and the discussion is centered on saving multi-millionaires and even billionaires a few dollars, any excuses fall on deaf ears.
After all, there should only be one aim, and that’s winning a championship. Outside of that, the discussion of finances should remain at the boardroom level, rather than making its way to the fans.
Celtics Setting Themselves up For Long-Term Success
We’ve seen far too many teams mortgage their immediate future in the pursuit of a championship. From overspending on non-contenders and giving out enormous contracts as the Washington Wizards did with John Wall, to shipping out multiple years of draft picks to trade for “the missing link”.
There’s no right or wrong way to construct a team, but if you want to be players in the free-agent market – when you can acquire premium talent without giving up valuable assets, then you need to manage the books correctly. Otherwise, you end up making knee-jerk additions and end up in similar territory to what the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in this season.
“It was just to do our best to manage our team appropriately, help our team appropriately. Again, the major focus is to do moves that we think can give us the best chance at ultimately being able to get into the mix for another banner,” Stevens said.
We’ve all seen the rumors linking the Celtics with a potential trade to solidify their future big three. But right now, the Celtics have a young and improving roster, with the majority of talent on long-term contracts, most of which are in that “mid-range” sweet spot, that makes them valuable trade chips should the need arise.
So, while the Celtics did duck under the tax apron, it would seem they’ve also positioned themselves to be contenders in any blockbuster trade opportunities that arise in the coming months and years.
“I think we got a good team right now where we’ll see what this group can accomplish together. I think we are also setup to build some continuity and grow together over the next couple of years if you look at our contracts as well,” Stevens said.
Stevens Pleased With Derrick White Addition
Despite the Celtics wanting to get under the luxury tax, the team still managed to add an important piece to the puzzle at the trade deadline, acquiring Derrick White from the San Antonio Spurs.
White is another player who the Celtics have long-term control over, thanks to him being in the first year of a four-year $68 million deal, per Spotrac. And judging by his first few weeks in Boston, the veteran wing is the perfect addition to Ime Udoka’s team and system.
“That was one we had targeted a guy that made our best players better and who also impact us on both ends of the floor at a really good rate. It was a guy who the numbers love but when you watch it, it makes a lot of sense. You see it in the last four games,” Stevens said when discussing the reasoning behind trading for White.
It’s clear that the Celtics are still another piece or two away from being at the required level to challenge for a championship, or at least, to be considered favorites by the media. But Stevens and the front office have put Boston in a position to be ultra-competitive now and to have the flexibility to further add to their roster when the opportunity arises. And for a Celtics team that look devoid of options a few months ago that’s a fantastic turnaround, and should leave us all excited for the future.