Danny Ainge burst onto Boston’s airwaves with passion. The four-years, $80-million reportedly offered to Jaylen Brown did not depict the entire negotiation, Ainge said. Nothing indicated any progress in negotiations, beside Brown hiring an agent. With the deadline approaching, Ainge’s optimism finally bloomed on Monday.
The Celtics pulled up the Brink’s truck for Brown hours before the deadline, agreeing to a $115-million extension that begins next season. While the price shocked many, it proved a fitting payday for an emerging star on the wing. The well-structured deal also allowed the two sides to avoid persisting tension into next summer, as Boston attempts to build a cohesive playing environment.
This isn’t entirely about a good-faith deal though.
Boston signed Brown for less than $4-million than his max contract annually. The deal came equipped with incentives, $8-million for earning a MVP, DPOY or All-NBA selection (much like Al Horford’s via the same agent). Brown needs to play 65 games, win 49 and reach the second round to secure $4-million. Without those, the contract totals $103-million, starting at $23-million next year.
A 4-year, $115M extension for Jaylen Brown would be a bit under $4M/year below the 25% max (which, of course, is before factoring in any downside exposure to the currently-projected $116M salary cap for 2020-21). https://t.co/hJrx2Jykcw
— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) October 21, 2019
Brown would have signed a similar deal this summer after Monday’s flurry of extensions. Worse, another team could’ve offered huge average annual values over the short-term, forcing Boston to match a worse deal. Ainge secured Brown for four years, with no player option.
There’s certainly risk here on multiple layers. If Brown never progresses, or regresses, it latches salary baggage onto Boston through 2024. Considering the length of Kemba Walker’s deal, with Jayson Tatum’s to come, Wyc Grousbeck is bound to pay luxury tax through the middle of the decade. He’s willing, but that is usually reserved for contending teams. Brown and Tatum need to progress into stars for the C’s to become one.
The Celtics committed to clarity and stability over those concerns. The Brooklyn trade provided a rare opportunity to hand-pick two young stars who already drove an East Finals run. Even tanking isn’t sure to provide that again with new lottery odds.
The first contract also establishes the second negotiation these days. Anthony Davis and Paul George displayed the power of the NBA’s stars to command their futures, even years away from free agency.
Boston wasn’t the only team that noticed. Sacramento, Indiana and San Antonio all accommodated their young stars before restricted free agency. In recent years, teams let the market dictate the cost that they could eventually match on their restricted free agents anyway.
The Celtics strung out Marcus Smart to earn a discount last summer, frustrating him. In short order, players secured leverage and teams shelled out $1-billion to the 2016 NBA Draft class before 2020. Brown may never reach George’s prominence, able to dictate his future, but if Boston’s betting on all-star appearances, why not fully invest in that ceiling?
By my count the 2016 NBA draft class has now been paid, or signed contracts that will pay them in the future, a total of $1.403 billion
— Ryan Bernardoni (@dangercart) October 22, 2019
Ainge and Brown both bet on him becoming that star. Brown’s already a devastating athlete, an efficient finisher and boasts a 36% three-point stroke. His dribbling and free throw shot leave plenty to be desired, but there’s a premium to pay for players in the mold of the league’s current stars.