Celtics

Why Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck believes his team is being overrated

"We’re not a hands-down team to repeat as Eastern Conference champions."

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck celebrated an Eastern Conference title last season, but he's being cautious on the team's expectations in the upcoming season. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck made a surprising admission about his team: Their run to the NBA Finals wasn’t as impressive as you might think.

In an interview with The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Grousbeck said that he “really loved being part of the Celtics throughout that run,” but he pointed out some of the hurdles Boston had to go through in order to reach the NBA Finals.

“I loved being right there with them. It was thrilling. The other side of the coin is I think that we’ve now been overrated,” Grousbeck told Himmelsbach. “I think that performance was a bit overrated in the public mind, or my own mind, because I’m the one saying it. [We were] a finalist and two wins away from winning it, but when you look back, Brooklyn was a tough series, and then we had to go seven games [against the Bucks and Heat]. Then we lost [to Golden State]. So, we’re not a hands-down team to repeat as Eastern Conference champions. I think we’re a quality team.”

Following an NBA Finals run led by one of the youngest duos (in terms of scoring) in recent history plus the addition of Malcolm Brogdon, the Celtics are actually the betting favorite to win it all in 2022-23.

Advertisement:

Grousbeck views his team as one of the “probably five or six teams” contending for a title this season, but he’s also “cautious against being overconfident.”

“I am [trying to tamp down expectations], but I’m not trying to do that in some manipulative way. It’s how I feel,” Grousbeck told Himmelsbach. “Look, I wouldn’t pick anybody ahead of us. But I don’t think we’ve got any smooth sailing ahead. We were a good team last year that won some key close games and were in the mix. But I don’t have us as the favorites. There are five or six co-favorites, as far as I’m concerned.”

While the Celtics are the betting favorite to win the title, there are a few teams that aren’t too far behind them in the odds to win it all on DraftKings Sportsbook. Two of those include Eastern Conference foes that Boston knocked off in its run to the Finals last season (Brooklyn +700, Milwaukee +800) while the team it lost to isn’t too far behind (Golden State +600). The Los Angeles Clippers are also tied for second in the odds to win it all (+600).

Advertisement:

Those four teams have one thing in common: They all spend well north of the luxury tax threshold. The Warriors, for instance, had a $170.3 million luxury tax payment in 2021-22, giving them a $346.2 million payroll and luxury tax payment for their title-winning roster.

The Clippers, Warriors, Nets, and Bucks are all projected to have the highest roster payrolls for the upcoming season. The Celtics aren’t too far behind them though, currently having the fifth-highest payroll ($170.1 million, per Spotrac) for 2022-23.

The upcoming season will be the first year in a while that the Celtics will go above the luxury tax threshold. Grousbeck said he’s ready to spend whatever money is needed in order to improve the Celtics’ roster.

“I think we’re spending about $200 million on the roster this year, and Brad has the green light to spend more,” Grousbeck said. “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.”

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com