Jaylen Brown is 22 years, and 363 days old, but Danny Ainge decided to give him an early birthday present.
Yesterday, Brown and the Celtics came to terms on a 4-year, $103 million contract.
Just last week, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that prior to yesterday’s deadline to sign an extension for those in the final year of their rookie deal the Celtics had made an offer of 4 years, $80 million to Jaylen Brown, but Brown was holding out for more.
This was the first numbers we had heard associated to any extension for Brown, as talks had been rather quiet this summer, and with the difference between the two sides, it was beginning to look likely that he would play out the final year of his rookie contract before entering restricted free agency.
Brown had some leverage.
The 2020 free agent class is weak, and over the course of the summer (and past few days), names that could have headlined the class remained with their teams (i.e. Draymond Green).
Brown’s pitch became simple: don’t sign me now and I play good this season, and you’ll have to match a max contract offer sheet in order to keep me, or risk losing me for little to nothing.
It did not come to this.
Brown’s deal was originally reported as 4 years and $115 million, but it was later reported that $12 million associated with Brown’s contract will be tied to incentives.
$4 million of these incentives have been called “likely,” as they include playing 65+ games, his team winning 49+ games, and his team reaching the second round of the playoffs (for perspective, he would have met these incentives the past 3 seasons).
$8 million of these incentives have been called “unlikely,” as they include winning an MVP, DPOY, or making an All-NBA Team.
All in all, $103 million guaranteed over 4 years, and we will likely see that figure become $107 million.
The question now is this: is he worth it?
According to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports, Brown’s first year salary for 2020-2021 will be $23.88 million. Based on current* NBA salaries for next season, that number would give Brown the 46th highest salary in the NBA, between LaMarcus Aldridge and Draymond Green.
*current includes salaries such as player options that may not be exercised, and does NOT include other rookie extensions agreed to yesterday (i.e. Buddy Hield)
Some will quickly point to facts such as Brown never averaging more than 15 PPG in a season, his role on this current team, his faults on defense and as a whole.
However, we have seen glimpses of what he can be.
Yes, they may not be large sample sizes, but Brown has show an ability to perform better than some of his perceived numbers, and on big stages.
Take his 2018 postseason.
Asked to help fill the void created by not having Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, Brown averaged 18 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.6 BPG. He shot 46.6% from the field, 39.3% from three, and 64% from the line, on 14.8 FGA per game.
Brown took more of a backseat last season, averaging just 10.7 FGA per game (down for his 2017-2018 season total as well), and although his FG% was the same and his FT% went up, his 3P% went from 39.5% to 34.4%, a huge drop. Brown also lost his starting spot during the season.
However, he made improvements during the second half of 2018-2019.
Jaylen Brown had a rough beginning to 2018-2019, but following the All-Star Break through the postseason, he saw his production increase.
This was while playing roughly 27 MPG, but regardless, his offensive efficiency was at or above what he did during the 2018 postseason, but only with 10.2 FGA per game.
Imagine that Brown with more minutes and in a more free-flowing offense with a team that will have better chemistry without he who shall not be named.
Practically every Celtic had a down year last season. There was constant turmoil and drama, and the product on the court never was what it could have been.
With new faces in town, that should change.
This season will provide the likes of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum an opportunity to show they are the future, and a chance to play with someone in Kemba Walker who has longed for the opportunity to be around teammates who are… good… his entire career.
The Celtics are betting on the potential of a soon to be 23-year-old wing who has shown glimpses of being a top scoring option on a playoff team, a wing who posses an ability to space the floor, drive to the rim, and has the intangibles to be a good-to-great defender.
Are there aspects of his game we need to see improve? Yes
Ball-handling, off-ball defense, and consistency to name a few.
However, Brown has shown the requisite work ethic to improve his game, and even if he is what he is, look at other players in his new income bracket:
This is the cost of paying a good wing player in this league. The players that propel their teams to championships are commonly wings, and even the average ones get paid handsomely.
I believe Jaylen has another level to his game, but if he doesn’t, consider this: this contract now becomes salary you can use in a trade.
Bradley Beal just signed an extension, and that will remove him from the trade market for at least a year. But say down the line he sees the Wizards situation not to his liking, his own priorities change, and he wants out.
Boston now has a contract that it can use as salary in that deal, one that will not force them to piece together half the roster in order to add up money.
At the end of the day, if Boston did not extend Brown, they risked losing a talented player. With their cap situation uncertain next summer, this meant limited paths to signing a player of similar or better value. With the trade market all but dried up at the time, having Brown as a trade asset before next summer was losing value.
Danny Ainge made a decision to keep a good player and bet on his continued development over losing him for nothing, and Jaylen Brown gets $100 million.
Sounds like a win-win to me.
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