The Boston Celtics backed up the Brinks truck and gave Jaylen Brown the 4-year, $115 extension he was looking for. Reports were that Jaylen Brown and his camp were hoping for a big number, and, at the end of the day, they got just that. Brown will be the first player coming off a rookie contract that the Celtics signed to an extension since Rajon Rondo in 2009.
After the dust settled a bit, it was clear that the reactions across the league were quite mixed. Inside the Boston media circle, the thoughts about this deal were mostly positive. The number may be high, but it was a deal that needed to be made and was doable under the circumstances. The Celtics had no other choice but to get this deal done.
It is important to understand the contract numbers outside of just the initial sticker shock. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, only $103 million will be guaranteed, $4 million will be likely incentives (plays 65 or more games, team wins 49 or more games, and reaches second round of playoffs), and $8 million will be unlikely incentives (MVP, DPOY, or one of three All-NBA Teams). Also, it will be set out as a gradual increase over time. The first year (2020-2021) will be about $23 million, up to about $24.8 Year Two, then up to about 26.7 and 28.5 Years Three and Four.
The Celtics were very smart in how they implemented the money to have the salary hopefully increase with the cap going up over the next few years. It is nice to see the numbers under the hood of this contract to see the benefit over time. Jaylen Brown gets his money, and the Celtics did a great job of balancing it out.
Now that the numbers are squared away, there are a few reasons why it was a must for the Celtics to give Brown this extension regardless of price. The first reason is that the free agency class coming up is a very weak one and the Celtics really do not have that much cap room to use. It was crucial for them to keep their talent before getting into a bidding war. Unlike what we have seen the past two off-seasons, there are only a few headline free agents in this coming class. Teams have used up their cap with big name players from past years. Because of this, it is important that teams lock up players finishing up their rookie-scale deal. Up to the deadline yesterday, third-year players were being signed for big extensions left and right. Along with Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield, Pascal Siakam, Domantas Sabonis, Taurean Prince, etc. all signed extensions. It is the smart move to have Jaylen Brown or one of the others instead of them being scooped up by a Memphis or Atlanta that will have maximum cap space this coming summer.
Along those same lines, another reason for the Celtics to give Brown this deal is that the standard on NBA contracts has gone out the window. Over the past few years, price tags have increased drastically. The current NBA landscape is set up to attempt to keep your guys on the team no matter the price. It hardly ever happens where the player seems like they were underpaid. Once again, that happened in this instance. The critics were crushing the final price tag without taking it in the context of the rising market. With an gradual increase each year, this contract will look average in two seasons.
Finally, the last reason the Celtics had no choice but to give out this extension was they needed to commit to the culture and pay a guy that has been with them since Day One. Yes, Jaylen Brown will only be entering the fourth year of his career. However, he was drafted by the Celtics and still has such a high ceiling the Celtics needed to invest in. This major deal shows him they are committed to him going forward. The team could not go back to the drawing board and try to bring someone new after losing Brown next summer. Luckily, that was not an option for them. They instead paid him and are now ready for his big jump this season.
On the flip side of the discussion, there is the reasoning against the huge extension. Outside of just the money being too high, some say that Jaylen Brown is who he is as a player already. He is a mid-level guy that does not show the signs of getting to the next level. To that point, that is very valid. His extension is too much for someone at Brown’s current level, however, that does not take the full picture into play. It does not give him credit for potentially making that jump to the next level as early as this season. He has shown improvements in all parts of the game over the last three seasons, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
All in all, the extension needed to happen between both parties. The Celtics needed their young, hopeful star for the future and Jaylen Brown needed the money to be respected in this league. He has shown the potential to justify the numbers no matter what the critics say. If he can take the next leap forward in his development in 2019-2020, this will look like a huge move for the future of this franchise.