Just a few hours before the deadline hit, every basketball fan felt a rush of excitement after Adrian Wojnarowski fired off a series of aerial projectiles known as “Woj Bombs.” One stood out to me personally: the Boston Celtics extension of Jaylen Brown to a four-year, $115 million contract.
Upon first glance this contract seemed like an albatross, but as more details came out and the more I thought about Brown’s role on this team, I began to accept it. It is a lot of money for a player of Brown’s age and production to this point, but Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is betting on his growth in a more defined role going forward.
Brown is no bum. He is a starting-caliber player on a top-five team in the Eastern Conference. His name has been constantly dangled in trade talk since he was drafted. He has been attached to trade rumors for Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Anthony Davis – who are all sure-fire stars. Ainge has been hesitant to move him for a reason.
Last season, despite having a reduced role due to the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, Brown’s statistics slightly improved. His decrease in minutes led to a slight drop in his averages, as he put up 13 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. However, when adjusted per 36 minutes, his counting stats all jumped from last season except turnovers, which went down. Per 36 minutes Brown averaged 18.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
There are many positives to this contract: It’s less than the max, it is incredibly tradeable, there are incentives, it brings clarity to the Celtics cap situation going forward and it signals to Jayson Tatum that Ainge is here to play ball.
First, let’s go through the incentives. The guarantees on this deal are reportedly around $103 million, or about $27 million short of the maximum he wanted. That mean’s there are about $12 million in incentives, which are split up between likely and unlikely incentives.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Brown will earn $8 million if he is named MVP, Defensive Player of the Year or makes any of the three All-NBA teams. He will make another $4 million if he plays 65 games, if the team wins 49 or more games and makes it to the second round of the playoffs.
This deal also makes the Celtics cap-situation extremely defined, as they have Brown, Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart and Tatum all locked into multi-year contracts. So now they have a defined core for years to come. Having a set group for an extended period of time will pay dividends later on. However, having much of their cap space already decided also takes them out of the running for free agents for this off-season.
This contract is also very tradeable, considering it falls right in the $26 million or so range, depending on incentives earned. This directly falls in line with other big-name contracts, like Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal or even Giannis Antetokounmpo, should he become available. This is extremely important when it comes to salary matching in trades his contract falls just short of those numbers, so all it takes is another low-level salary and picks to make a solid offer for them. I am not saying the Celtics will be looking to make a move like that necessarily, but it keeps the option on the table should other teams look to move their stars.
Most importantly, this contract shows Jayson Tatum, arguably a more important piece to this roster than Brown, that Ainge is willing to open his checkbook for a young player. Prior to this contract, Ainge had not extended a player still on his rookie-scale deal since he signed Rajon Rondo to an extension in 2009. Now that Brown has put pen to paper to stay in Boston, Tatum has a first-hand look at the loyalty Ainge has for Brown, which is not something we have seen from him in quite some time.
Trader Danny changed his perception with his recent signings, using the power of Wyc Grousbeck’s wallet instead of his stash of draft picks. I think this signing solidifies that, and it is a good thing. It shows the players Boston can be a place where you don’t have to always look over your shoulder, waiting to be sent somewhere else. Brown’s signing is more than just a lot of money, it is a commitment to a new path in Boston: The core.
Mike Mavredakis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @mmavredakis.