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July 3, 2024

With parent team up for sale, Maine Celtics likely to change hands — but it’s complicated

Photo / Peter Van Allen The Maine Celtics, in green, take on another G League team, the Greensboro (N.C.) Swarm, in March at the Portland Expo.

For some basketball fans, it's cruel irony. The legendary Boston Celtics — who captured a record 18th NBA championship just two weeks ago with a 106-88 blow-out of the Dallas Mavericks — are now up for sale.

Which means the Maine Celtics, the development league team purchased by the Boston Celtics in 2019 and later so-named, are up for sale, too.

Maine fans have their own reason to be smarting at the prospect of a sale and whatever changes that might mean on the court. In April, the Maine Celtics finished second in the G League, after advancing to the championship finals for the first time in the Portland team's 15-year history.

But the future is unclear for both Celtics squads.

The ownership group of the Boston Celtics, Boston Basketball Partners LLC, on Monday said it intends to sell all shares of the team. Owner Wyc Grousbeck and his family, who have a controlling interest in the group, plan to divest a majority stake "for estate and family planning considerations" this year or in early 2025.

The balance of the shares would be sold in 2028, according to a statement from the ownership group.

The Boston Celtics are worth $4.7 billion, the fourth-most valuable NBA franchise, Forbes magazine reported in 2023. Grousbeck, a venture capitalist and native of Worcester, Mass., formed and led Boston Basketball Partners in purchasing the team for a reported $360 million in 2002.

Among potential buyers now is Steve Pagliuca, managing partner of the Boston Celtics and a member of the ownership group's executive committee.

“Being a co-investor and managing partner of the Celtics has been a great honor and a labor of love. I hope to be part of the Celtics moving forward and will be a proud participant in the bidding process that has been announced,” Pagliuca said in a social media statement on Monday.

So far, there's little information available about what a potential deal for the franchise might look like.

A sale of the parent club would presumably include the minor-league team in Maine. Each of the NBA's 30 teams currently owns or has an exclusive affiliation with a G League team, which cultivates up-and-coming players.

Given the 2024 success of both Celtics teams and an affiliation that began in 2012, when the Maine Celtics were the Maine Red Claws, it seems likely the two teams would be sold as a package.

However, a prospective owner or owners might feel differently.

It's worth noting that in 2021 the NBA's Phoenix Suns sold their G League team, the Northern Arizona Suns, to the Detroit Pistons. Phoenix became the only NBA team without a feeder operation, but nevertheless played three seasons that way. (The team, under new ownership itself now, has recently purchased a G League affiliate that will debut in the 2024-25 season.)

Attempts to reach Boston Basketball Partners and the Boston Celtics for comment on a potential sale and its implications for the Maine team were not immediately successful.

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