LAS VEGAS — As the NBA’s summer league revved up last weekend, all of the Celtics’ top executives were in town evaluating prospects and working to finalize the roster. Celtics star Jaylen Brown was here, too, handing out luxurious gifts to rookies from a suite at the Palms Casino Resort.
Brown’s brother, Quenton, even sat in a courtside seat alongside the brass during the Celtics’ loss to the Wizards on Sunday.
But the weekend came and went without the sides finalizing Brown’s five-year, $295 million super-max contract extension that sources have insisted for weeks will eventually be completed.
Yes, the Celtics technically have until October to agree to an extension with Brown. But it usually does not take this long for a player of his caliber. In recent weeks, for example, less-accomplished stars such as LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, and Desmond Bane have agreed to five-year max extensions with their clubs.
There was continued dialogue between Brown’s camp and the Celtics over the weekend, league sources said, but the sides are still negotiating, and as of Monday morning no deal was imminent. League sources said that there is confidence and hope that an agreement will be reached soon, but it’s unclear how far they are from the finish line. One league source said that “there is work to be done.”
By all indications, the Celtics are offering Brown the full five-year max, but there are various incentives that are likely under discussion. This past season, for example, Brown earned an extra $2 million for playing in 65 games and appearing in the All-Star Game.
There could be some discussion over incentives included in this extension that are unlikely to be obtained, such as a bonus for being named league MVP.
But according to one former NBA general manager, it’s unlikely that the sides are haggling over those details at this point. The former executive suggested the hold-up is most likely over a fifth-year player option and/or a potential no-trade clause.
Players need eight years of service to be eligible for a no-trade clause, and Brown has completed only seven, so that is not an option. But Brown’s camp could negotiate a trade kicker worth up to 15 percent of his salary. A kicker is essentially a bonus paid to the player by his current team if he is traded.
In 2020, Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum received a fifth-year player option in his five-year, $195 million max extension. That option will allow Tatum to decline the fifth year of his deal next summer and become eligible for a more lucrative five-year extension after that. Or, he could simply opt out and become a free agent one year earlier, if he pleases.
Brown has made it clear over the years that he views himself as Tatum’s equal rather than his sidekick, and it would be understandable for his camp to push for the player option that Tatum received.
NBA offseason business generally winds down after summer league ends, so this appears to be an important week for Brown and the Celtics. They could simply reengage closer to the start of the regular season, but the sides would clearly prefer to have something finalized before that. For now, the wait continues.