Jaylen Brown: Assessing his Celtics contract situation, what lies ahead

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Jaylen Brown has made clear his intentions to sign a max contract with today’s extension deadline looming large:  but the Boston Celtics seem unwilling to oblige. What’s next?

Entering his fourth year in the league, this is the most important for Jaylen Brown. His numbers went down in a dwindling Celtics team last year but there’s no time for excuses now, with a new point-guard leader in three-time All-Star Kemba Walker – tasked with doing what Kyrie Irving couldn’t – propelling them back to where they belong, part of real championship contention.

It’ll be tough, what with the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks eager to pick off where the champion Toronto Raptors left off in June, though stranger things have happened.

Losing both Kyrie and five-time center All-Star Al Horford over the summer represent significant pieces that will be missed in Boston, though they are hoping to see a much-improved Gordon Hayward after last year’s struggles upon his return from injury. 29-year-old Kemba is very much adopting a win-now mentality having signed a lucrative deal this summer, eager to silence doubters by leading a contender for a title push. It’ll be a first in his eight-year NBA career.

We’ve seen flashes of a partnership blossoming between Brown and Jayson Tatum, one that wasn’t really on show at the FIBA World Cup, but impressed in spells during that illustrious run in the 2017 campaign. That feels much longer than it was and reiterates the Celtics’ window of opportunity. The pair have chemistry together and Tatum has shown more than enough to justify his standing as their franchise player for years to come.

Image result for jaylen brown and jayson tatum

Tatum and Brown have chemistry, but questions remain over whether the Celtics will go all-in on Jaylen long-term

However, the issue remains that Brown – a year older and 60-odd NBA games more experienced – hasn’t shown that same capability. As an example of what I mean, here are his stat averages over the past three league seasons:

  • Year 1: 6.6ppg, 34% from three, 45% FG in 17-odd minutes per contest
  • Year 2: 14.5ppg, 1 stl, 1.6 ast, 4.9 reb, 39% from three, 46% FG in 30 minutes
  • Year 3: 13ppg, stl/ast/reb numbers all lower, same FG%, 34% from three

With that in mind, you should understand the scepticism his comments over demanding a max deal has brought. Unless he embarks on a Giannis-esque jump from Y3 to Y4, where he’ll be expected to improve exponentially across different facets of his game, how could he warrant that money long-term?

Jaylen deciding to hire an agent is important, too

He’s not mincing his words, either. Earlier this past week he reportedly rejected a four-year, $80m deal to extend terms in Boston and appears to be betting on himself to earn a better contract elsewhere next summer if they believe if he’s not worth the max.

During the first three seasons of his career, he had no agent or representation. This month, he’s hired agent Jason Glushon – which again is important given his existing situation.

“It’s just what’s best for me. I don’t really want to talk about it, but I made my decision and I move on. The media, headlines and articles being written about it is more a distraction than anything. I’m just focused on basketball.” – Brown when questioned about his decision to hire an agent (H/T: Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach)

Glushon boasts clients including Horford, Pelicans point-guard Jrue Holiday and Detroit Pistons’ summer acquisition Joe Johnson so you can understand the thinking behind Brown’s motives.

If a deal is not agreed by today, he will become a restricted free agent after the 2019/20 season and other teams leaguewide could offer him better terms elsewhere.

Celtics can still wait, assess his season and decide whether they want to match the deal – though max deals and lucrative offers are likely to see his head turned by a more interesting proposition if assurances aren’t made clear by a certain point in the season and he still doesn’t feel financially secure.

analysis and Final thoughts

A four-year, $80m opening offer is understandable from the Celtics’ perspective as they want to save money where possible but like it or not, player power has emerged again across the NBA in recent seasons.

It makes sense wanting Brown to commit while they can, but players are aware they can command more money in different places – after all, there’s 30 teams with different needs. You just have to look at Buddy Hield and his situation in Sacramento.

Celtics don’t have much room for financial flexibility so starting with a lower offer might seem unnecessarily brave given his demands but ultimately an honest one on their part, for a player with All-Star potential but equally one who hasn’t been consistent enough regularly.

They won’t know this current crop’s ceiling for a while, though if Brown can transcend into the type of star that Tatum is being primed into, they will have no problems offering a max deal.

He hasn’t done so yet and that’s okay, but the main reason why the two sides have been at an impasse. Regardless of whether they offer him better terms or not, you’d be right in thinking this story isn’t over just yet.

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