The Boston Celtics are reportedly finalizing an extension to the team's broadcast deal with Comcast SportsNet New England, and Forbes' Michael Ozanian reports that the new contract is expected to add $20 million to the franchise's annual local TV take, which has been reported to be $15-20 million. But that's not all.
The Sports Business Journal had reported that in the deal the Celtics would also grab a 20 percent stake in CSN NE, which would add some additional income and valuable equity for the Celtics and would bolster Comcast's security in the Northeast by keeping the Celtics from starting their own regional sports network.
But Ozanian points out another convenient wrinkle for Wyc Grousbeck and the Celtics.
The increase in the rights fee, which is expected to be about $20 million a season, will be included in the league's Basketball Related Income and therefore part of the salary cap. But none of the income the Celtics owners will get from their equity stake in the profitable RSN will be included in BRI and, by extension, player salaries.
Keep in mind that, under the current system, the Los Angeles Lakers' new deal with Time Warner Cable would increase the annual NBA salary cap by $3 million on all its own. The Celtics' double rights fee wouldn't have nearly as dramatic an impact -- more like a $380,000 boost to the salary cap due to increased league revenue. But if you surmise that Grousbeck and the Celtics' ownership will be taking in good money from the CSN NE stake, you can see the shell game being played.