At 12:01 a.m. July 1, Jaylen Brown was eligible for a five-year, $304 million super-max extension with the Celtics.
But then hours turned into days and days turned into weeks without a deal, even as less-heralded stars around the NBA such as LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, and Desmond Bane signed super-max extensions of their own.
All along, though, sources on both sides stressed that there was no concern about Brown’s contract. And on Tuesday, a league source confirmed, Brown and the Celtics agreed to the five-year deal that will become the most lucrative in NBA history.
The source said the deal is fully guaranteed but does not include a fifth-year player option like the one Jayson Tatum received when he signed a five-year extension with the Celtics in 2020, perhaps a mild concession by Brown’s camp.
The source said the deal, which will start with the 2024-25 season, does include a trade kicker, which is essentially a bonus the team must pay the player if he is traded. The source said it is for less than the maximum 15 percent. Brown cannot be traded for at least one year after signing this extension.
Brown, 26, will make $31.8 million in the final season of his current four-year deal in 2023-24 before his salary balloons to $52.4 million the following season.
He became eligible to receive the super-max deal, which allows him to be paid 35 percent of the salary cap, because he was named second-team All-NBA this past season after averaging 26.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. Now he is set to be part of the franchise’s core for the long term as it continues to pursue its first NBA title since 2008.
On July 13, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens briefly addressed Brown’s situation during a small gathering with reporters during the NBA’s Las Vegas summer league.
“It’s been all good discussion,” Stevens said. “We want Jaylen to be here for a long, long time and we’ve made that clear.”
Negotiations paused last week when Brown, a Players Association vice president, traveled to Andalucia, Spain, to take part in an NBPA performance retreat. He returned to Boston late last week and on Friday attended a ceremony at Fenelon Park in Dorchester with Mayor Michelle Wu to announce the redesign of its basketball court.
“This is one small example of what’s going on here in these spaces in Boston,” Brown said. “But as long as I’m here, these things will continue.”
Brown, the third overall pick of the 2016 draft, has helped the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference finals in five of his seven seasons, along with a 2022 Finals appearance against the Warriors. But a championship has remained elusive.
The two-time All-Star has emerged as an elite scorer, but questions persist about his abilities as a playmaker. The most recent reminder came in Game 7 of the conference finals against the Heat, when Brown committed eight turnovers in the season-ending loss. During the regular season, the Celtics outscored opponents by 5.4 points per 100 possessions when Brown played and 9.1 points when he did not.
Nevertheless, the Celtics view him as an integral part of their future and are confident that he can be a pillar of a title-winning team.
When Brown’s $52.4 million salary kicks in to start the 2024-25 season, center Kristaps Porzingis will be making $30 million on the first season of his two-year extension, and Tatum will be paid $34.8 million in the fourth year of his current extension. The following summer, Tatum will be eligible for another five-year super-max extension that could be worth close to $340 million.
Celtics ownership has maintained that it will be willing to spend deep into the luxury tax to build a title team, but if they are still pursuing their first championship since 2008 two years from now, some difficult roster decisions might have to be considered. For now, however, Stevens has his new big three locked in.