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Wyc Grousbeck’s Celtics sale could play out in one of several ways

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Wyc Grousbeck’s Celtics sale could play out in one of several ways


Wyc Grousbeck carries so much pride, so much passion about his Celtics that Monday’s announcement that he wants to sell his share of the team seems like a nightmare, especially since it’s exactly two weeks since his team won its long-desired 18th championship.

On a day where the team agreed to long-term extensions with Jayson Tatum and Derrick White, investing nearly $450 million into two cornerstones, Grousbeck and the Boston Basketball Partners LLC announced that it was putting their share of the team up for sale, with Grousbeck wanting to get out of his majority stake for one of the NBA’s more valuable commodities.

This could be viewed as a negative, especially since sports teams going on the open market bring up a myriad of negative possibilities, such as an owner who makes promises after he or she buys and then uses the franchise as a profit base, disregarding putting the best product on the floor for the sake of finances.

There is zero chance for relocation but that appears to be the only certainty. Perhaps the best-case scenario is one of the team’s minority governors ponying up the money to buy Grousbeck’s share and then keeping the championship train moving.

One notable fact from the team’s press release: the sale of Grousbeck’s share could take as much as four years and he will remain the face of the franchise. Such a long-term sale process is currently undergoing in Minnesota, where longtime governor Glen Taylor promised to sell the Timberwolves to a group led by former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and entrepreneur Mark Lore, until Taylor said the duo reneged on the agreement and refused to consummate the sale agreement.

Rodriguez and Lore have accused Taylor of having seller’s remorse, especially since the Timberwolves reached the Western Conference finals for their most successful season in 20 years. The two sides are currently in mediation.

The NBA will certainly keep close tabs on the Celtics sale and the process is expected to be a fascinating experience, considering the potential private and corporate interest that will be expected. What sports-fanatic billionaire wouldn’t want to own the Celtics?

What major corporation with Northeast ties wouldn’t want to own the Celtics?

But let’s face it, owning a basketball team is much more of a hobby than any means of a profit base. The salaries are rising. Tatum and Jaylen Brown will earn more than $600 million over the next five-plus years and the penalties are exorbitant with the more money spent on salaries.

Because of the lower-market and small-market owners, the NBA has discouraged lavish spending such as the Warriors over the past decade, with heavier tax bills in the new collective bargaining agreement.

Wyc Grousbeck (left) and his father H. Irving Grousbeck were at the forefront at the purchase of the Celtics in 2002 from the Gaston family.Davis, Jim Globe Staff

The Celtics are deep in the second apron, but that didn’t stop Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca, and crew from re-signing Jrue Holiday, White, and Tatum in the last few weeks, ensuring the team’s core will compete for championships for the next five years.

Grousbeck and Pagliuca have turned the Celtics into the model NBA franchise, taking that reign from the Warriors, who are experiencing their share of on-court issues with Klay Thompson departing for the Mavericks, completing their decline since the 2022 NBA Finals.

The responsibility of this current ownership group is to ensure the Celtics don’t slip as a franchise or brand and to sell the club to responsible and dedicated governors who will continue this sparkling run. This is not this reporter’s first time covering a sale, and the first time was a disaster for the city of Seattle.

Starbucks guru Howard Schultz decided to put the SuperSonics on the market in February 2006 and then sold the club five months later — lightning fast for a professional sports franchise — to an Oklahoma-based group led by businessman Clayton Bennett, who demanded the state of Washington pay a majority of the bill for a new arena, then eventually sued to escape the lease and moved the team to Oklahoma City.

Schultz had the option of finding a local owner but decided to sell quickly. In the Celtics’ case, it would be prudent to find the most suitable owner who has a plan to build on the franchise’s success, continue to invest in the Boston community and devise some fresh ideas about one of the pristine professional sports franchises as it enters a new decade and new era.

Right now, those ideas are uncomfortable at best because of the unknown. But if Grousbeck and his group make the soundest decision and put the franchise in good hands, then this could be an exciting time. We’re going to miss Wyc. We’re going to miss his honesty, his unwavering desire to win and bring the Celtics back to the top and getting them there twice in 21 years.

In the short term, Celtics faithful should be thrilled. Just an hour before the ownership announcement, White was signed to an extension, cooling any anxiety about entering his contract season. A few hours later, one of the greatest players in franchise history — and yes, Brown also is included in that group — signed a five-year extension to ensure he’ll likely be in Boston at least until the end of the decade and by then, Tatum will only be 31.

These are good times in Boston and Monday’s announcement shouldn’t disturb the momentum, but if this ownership group led by Grousbeck wants out, then it’s their responsibility to keep the franchise in the best care, an arduous task to avoid the easy route of selling to the highest bidder.


Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him @GwashburnGlobe.





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