LAS VEGAS – The Celtics have had a very busy season this summer after a disappointing loss in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. After several years of watching Boston’s offense sputter in late games and big moments in the playoffs, one of the team’s focuses this offseason was to upgrade the offense in those spots per. league sources. That change has largely come in the form of 7-foot-3 big man Kristaps Porzingis, who was acquired with draft capital for Marcus Smart in June.
The Celtics have reportedly agreed to a $60 million extension over two years with the former Wizard, but that deal is not yet official. So is the team’s sign-and-trade of Grant Williams with the Dallas Mavericks for two second-round picks. There’s no rush to get these deals done, but it’s worth mentioning that both remain unfinished amid Jaylen Brown’s extension negotiations, which remain ongoing in Las Vegas as both sides are in town for the NBA Summer League.
While many assumed this Brown deal would be agreed upon at the start of free agency, negotiations have strangely stalled as other stars around the league (Tyrese Halliburton, Desmond Bane, LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards) all signed up to massive expansions of their own within the past 10 days.
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Brown’s supermax deal is more complex than those, or at least less straightforward given the amount involved. Rookie max deals generally lead to clear negotiations, as was the case when Jayson Tatum signed his deal four years ago.
So what type of haggling could be going on between the two sides right now. And how does the Kristaps Porzingis acquisition potentially fit into this? Here are a few areas you can see:
Brown can make up to 35 percent of the salary cap after becoming eligible for a supermax extension, but he is not obligated to as part of any deal. The Celtics can offer anything over 30 percent in the deal, and that’s higher than Brown would be able to get from any other team in free agency next summer (30 percent).
Historically, most players eligible for a supermax have received the full 35 percent of the salary cap (Rudy Gobert was an exception), but that was before the new NBA CBA was introduced with far-reaching team-building restrictions on team spending well into the luxury tax the other forecourt. The Celtics can try to bridge that gap by only offering Brown the full 35 percent max if he reaches certain player or team incentives. Brown has had plenty of incentives in his current deal (games played, team performance bonus, etc.), but those kinds of incentives are becoming less common in star deals as stars demand the guaranteed money in full.
The contract is to have a total duration of five years, but the final year of the contract is a player option in a lot of max deals. Brown’s camp is likely pushing for this so he can lock down another long-term max deal at a younger age. The Celtics would obviously prefer long-term contractual control for themselves or any potential trade partner if a deal is struck is Brown.
Terms of trade/Porzingi’s extension
There won’t be a no-trade clause in this contract, but that doesn’t mean Brown’s camp isn’t looking for some extra protection on the trade front.
This is where things get interesting in that world. The Celtics acquiring Porzingis and reportedly agreeing to an extension with him puts the Celtics’ long-term payroll in an exciting spot. Brown’s starting salary for the 2024-25 season would be around $50 million if the team gives him the full 35 percent max. Factor in Porzingis’ $30 million salary and the final year of Tatum’s deal ($34.8 million), and the Celtics will have $114.8 million committed to those three players alone in 2024-25. That would be over 80 percent of a projected $142 million salary cap.
Those numbers would also put Boston’s $182 million total payroll for 2024-2025 committed to just nine players (albeit primarily the entire rotation). The Celtics would easily be over the luxury tax and would likely be flirting with the second apron once the roster is filled out.
That’s a viable scenario for the 2024-25 season, perhaps if the team moves Brogdon’s $22.5 million deal for less salary. But the math gets very tough for 2025-26, when Tatum’s max extension kicks in.
At that point, Tatum and Brown would make 70 percent of the salary cap combined, and Porzingis’ $30 million pushes that to about 90 percent of the cap, just as the team enters repeater territory with the luxury tax (much stricter spending on taxes). team). To put it bluntly, unless Celtics ownership is willing to pay record amounts of money in tax penalties (think Clippers or Warriors the past few years), building a championship roster with all three of these on the books starting in 2025. Robert Williams and Jordan Walsh would be the only other players under contract at that time.
It’s a very good bet Brown’s camp is aware of all this and knows there’s a fair chance Brown could be the odd man out in Boston when this spending issue comes up. For that reason, trying to work some protection into Brown’s supermax contract (via a trade bonus) could be an issue in negotiations if he takes less than the full 35 percent of the cap. The Celtics understandably won’t have any kind of limitations/challenges dealing a player with such a large deal, especially when they’re the only team that can give that type of money to Brown to begin with.
The equation becomes much easier if the Celtics win a title in the next two years with Brown. Maybe Porzingis will be touched and the Celtics build around their star duo. Or they get creative with smaller contracts to build around all three if they are proven winners together. If they’re not, though, reshaping the roster in 2025 for Boston’s brass with Porzingis as a cheaper No. 2 option next to Tatum rather than Brown on a supermax deal could make a lot more sense if he shows, that he fits well this year.
In the end, the Celtics should still have an impact in this spot, as Brown would cost himself tens of millions to play hardball here on one of these specific terms. But the math shows that it’s far from a sure thing that Brown will remain a Celtic for the entirety of his next deal, and the acquisition of Porzingis last month likely reduced those odds.