The Celtics may be paying a pretty penny to bring Kevin Garnett to town, but they're already getting a return on their investment.
While most are talking about the huge bet the team placed by trading five players and two draft picks to secure Garnett, KG was already helping them at the cash register to the tune of nearly $2 million worth of new tickets sold on Monday alone -- before a deal with Garnett was even confirmed by the team.
"Ticket sales have already increased dramatically. It's basically an investment in a great team and we hope a great team can generate sellouts and all the positive things that come with that," said Steve Pagliuca, one of the Celtics' owners.
The Celtics need some financial positives to offset the enormous expense they are undertaking by signing Garnett, whose contract will likely put the team over the NBA's "luxury tax" cap. Since the trade for Garnett involved five Celtics players, they will have to sign other players to fill out their roster. Pagulica said he expects the Celtics to pay between $5 million and $10 million in luxury cap fees.
The Celtics are already considered among basketball's most effective teams at marketing and ticket sales. Despite having won 29 percent of their games last season, the team sold out nine games at the TD Banknorth Garden and had average attendance of more than 16,000 fans -- roughly 3,000 short of the arena's full capacity.
Following the Garnett trade and an earlier deal that brought guard Ray Allen to town from Seattle, the team is looking for the trio of Allen, Garnett and Paul Pierce to help sell even more tickets. It will also get a boost from sales of Garnett jerseys, which were already being offered on the Celtics' web site at $45.99 apiece this afternoon.
An NBA spokeswoman said the jerseys wouldn't be available on NBA.com or at the league's retail store in New York until Friday.
Garnett's Timberwolves jersey didn't make the list of top selling NBA jerseys last year, but was 16th during the 2005-2006 season, according to league data. By comparison, Pierce had the 13th-best selling jersey in the league last year, and Celtics apparel ranked seventh among all NBA teams.