Brown’s long-term future looms large
Eligible to receive supermax extension
Jaylen Brown needed some more time. The Celtics star, understandably, was processing a lot.
Moments after the Celtics’ sudden season-ending loss in Game 7 on Monday night, the biggest question of this summer was raised. About Brown’s future with the Celtics. About what he’s looking for. About his expectations for how extension talks will play out.
This summer, the Celtics can offer Brown a supermax extension worth $295 million that would keep him in Boston longterm. Brown, who had just come off the floor after one of the most disappointing performances of his career, shrugged off the first question about his future.
“I expected to win today and move on,” Brown said. “That’s what my focus was on and that’s what my focus has been on. We failed. I failed. It’s hard to think about anything else right now, to be honest. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
When the topic was raised again minutes later, Brown struggled to come up with an answer when asked about his mindset entering potential extension talks and his expectations.
“Say that again?” Brown said, buying himself more time to process an answer.
When it was asked again, Brown took 25 seconds to formulate something.
“You asked my thought process?” Brown asked in the middle of that.
“I don’t even really know how to answer that question right now, to be honest,” Brown said. “My thought process is take it one day at a time, focus on getting better. Focus on what the future holds and see where we are from there. I guess I don’t know really know how to answer that.”
Some time after July 1, when the Celtics can officially offer Brown the supermax, an answer will come. It’s undoubtedly the biggest question facing this franchise as they turn the page from a failed season and figure out how to build a championship team moving forward around Jayson Tatum and Brown.
Brown had a career season in 2022-23, posting a career-high 26.6 points per game as he was named an All-NBA second team selection for the first time. But he crumbled with a forgettable performance in the East finals. He averaged just 19 points over the seven games and punctuated the series with a disastrous performance in Game 7 as he scored just 19 points and committed a career-high eight turnovers after Tatum sprained his left ankle to send the C’s packing for the summer.
“Just a terrible game,” Brown said. “When my team needed me most, like J.T. hurt his ankle, first play of the game, and you could see it like swelling up on him. He couldn’t move out there. It was tough for him. My team turned to me to make plays and I came up short, I failed. It’s tough. I give credit to Miami, but just a terrible job.”
There are important considerations president of basketball operations Brad Stevens and the Celtics will make while assessing their future with Tatum and Brown, who are still entering their primes at age 25 and 26, respectively, and have proven capable of leading the C’s to the NBA Finals.
Both Celtics stars are eligible to be offered the supermax extension, with Brown qualified to receive one first this summer and then Tatum next summer. Tatum is eligible to receive a five-year, $318 million extension next summer and will almost certainly get it as the face of the Celtics franchise.
If the C’s decide to offer Brown the supermax, then, they would be committing $613 million to their two stars, who would take up a significant portion of the salary cap in that scenario. That becomes more difficult with the introduction of a new collective bargaining agreement that contains challenges for teams spending into the luxury tax and will limit the Celtics’ flexibility to build a championship roster around Tatum and Brown.
The Celtics offering Brown a supermax deal ultimately feels likely unless they suddenly feel like a massive change is necessary and shake up a core that’s on the brink of a championship but hasn’t yet climbed over the hump. There aren’t easy alternatives to make.
Ultimately, it may come down to Brown. As Monday suggested, he’s unsure what his future holds and his desire to make a long-term commitment to stay in Boston is a valid question. But no player has ever rejected a supermax extension.
Those questions will loom over the Celtics for at least the next month. Tatum, for one, made clear his hope for the Celtics and Brown to come to a longterm agreement this summer.
“It’s extremely important,” Tatum said. “He’s one of the best players in this league. He plays both ends of the ball and still is relatively young. And he’s accomplished a lot so far in his career. So, I think it’s extremely important.”