Celtics

How to get past the sticker shock with Jaylen Brown's $115 million extension

How to get past the sticker shock with Jaylen Brown's $115 million extension

There will be understandable sticker shock when many see the four-year, $115 million extension that Jaylen Brown agreed to on Monday afternoon.

While we wait to find out exactly how much of that total is incentivized, there’s no denying that a $28.8 million average annual value is a big number. And while it’s not the full max that fellow 2016 draft class members Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray, and Pascal Siakam received, it is significantly more than some other reported deals struck Monday by Buddy Hield (four years, $94 million), Domantas Sabonis (four years, $87 million), and Dejounte Murray (four years, $64 million).

So why did the Celtics splurge this early when they had an ability to match any offer that Brown might have received next summer? Boston’s strategy centers on locking up a player whose future they are bullish on, particularly when the team was unlikely to have cap space to work with in the near-term future.

Some things to remember when digesting the price tag of Monday’s extension:

1) The Celtics already had $69 million in guaranteed contracts next summer and that total could escalate quickly if Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter opt in to the final years of their deals (a combined $39.4 million). Factor in Brown’s $19.6 million cap hold and the Celtics were going to have no cap space without renouncing their rights to Brown. Remember, too, the list of potential free agents was going to be paltry with Brown in line to be the potential gem of the class pending his performance this season. Barring a step back, the Celtics might have had to pay Brown upwards of max money. This deal could end up saving them money in the long term, though Brown certainly hasn’t played to a consistency that would suggest that’s a sure thing yet.

2) The Celtics had a murky path to simply be players in the potentially bountiful free-agent class of 2021. Jayson Tatum will be extension eligible next summer and, even if the Celtics waited on that, he’d carry a $29.7 million cap hold the following summer. Boston has positioned itself to pounce early next offseason and lock up Tatum, essentially committing to a core of Kemba Walker, Tatum, and Brown for the foreseeable future.

3) Boston’s payroll is going to be very top-heavy starting in the 2021-22 season. If Brown and Tatum are both extended by that point, Boston will have nearly $100 million committed to a trio of Walker/Smart/Tatum (and Marcus Smart is on the books for another $14.3 million). The team will be forced to get creative with how to fill out its roster. It puts a premium on draft and development, including of the multi-member rookie class that’s providing end-of-the-roster depth this season.

4) Brown’s salary this season is not impacted. He’ll earn $6.5 million and the Celtics remain well south of the $138.9 million hard cap for landing Walker via sign-and-trade. While the extension makes it hard to see Brown being moved this year (his outgoing salary would factor in extension money), the Celtics still have the flexibility to make other moves this season to alleviate any wing congestion that might develop.

The Celtics are likely hoping that a new deal takes any pressure off Brown and allows his natural abilities — the ones displayed in full during the 2018 playoffs — to shine through in the post-Kyrie era.

Brown has already shown encouraging progress in areas of his game this preseason, from a renewed focus on ball-handling to better court vision to being able to finish with both hands at the basket.

“Jaylen has made tremendous strides over the last three years and has become a fantastic player for us on both ends of the court,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in Boston’s release announcing the extension. “He’s a great person and hard worker who, at 22 years old, can score and defend against the best players in the NBA. Jaylen is a true professional who did a great job accepting his role last season, and he is a major part of our championship goals.”

And the Celtics paid him like someone they believe capable of putting them on a path back to title contention. Boston is splurging more for potential than performance but they’re hoping that — a few years from now — the deal will look far more modest as the league’s top salaries begin to bloat over $40 million per season for veterans on max deals.

The Celtics have done their part in committing to Brown. Now it’s on the player to prove he was worth the investment.

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Bradley Beal's historic game vs. Celtics didn't stop Jayson Tatum's trash talk

Bradley Beal's historic game vs. Celtics didn't stop Jayson Tatum's trash talk

BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum has been battling Bradley Beal since high school, so he knows all of the St. Louis native's tricks.

Beal used all of them Wednesday night.

The Wizards guard exploded for 44 points on 17-of-27 shooting in Washington's 140-133 loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. For context, Beal is just the sixth NBA player to score 44 points or more at the new Garden since it opened in 1995.

A few of Beal's buckets came against Tatum, a fellow St. Louis native who looked to Beal as a "big brother" growing up and now works out with the All-Star guard every summer.

But even as Beal lit up the Celtics, Tatum found a way to trash-talk his close friend and mentor by fixating on one of Beal's rare misses with Tatum guarding him in isolation.

"(He did a) between the legs, between the legs into a stepback -- I knew that s--- was coming -- and he missed it," Tatum recalled after the game. "So I told him, 'He don't really score on me 1-on-1. He's gotta use a screen.' "

Take your victories where you can get them, right?

Tatum isn't naive, though. When asked if his familiarity with Beal's game makes it easier to guard the two-time All-Star, Tatum responded:

"I mean, he still had 44. St. Louis guys can hoop. That's what it is."

Tatum didn't elevate to Beal's level Wednesday night but still did plenty of hooping, dropping 23 points on 9-of-20 shooting to put Monday's 1-for-18 performance in his rearview mirror.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Celtics' Kemba Walker on Jayson Tatum's bounce-back game: 'There'll be a lot more big games for that guy'

Celtics' Kemba Walker on Jayson Tatum's bounce-back game: 'There'll be a lot more big games for that guy'

BOSTON -- The final numbers for Jayson Tatum in Boston’s 140-133 win over Washington - 23 points on 9-for-19 shooting - are not going to inspire any “M-V-P” chants or anything like that. 

“Better than one-for-eighteen,” said a grinning Tatum, referring to the horrendous shooting performance he had in Boston’s win over Dallas on Monday. 

Tatum has had some off nights shooting this season, but the woeful performance against Dallas was historically bad. It was only the ninth time in NBA history that a player shot that poorly while taking 18 shots from the field. 

Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, who knows Tatum better than anyone else in the NBA, said going into the game Wednesday night that the third-year forward was going to have a solid bounce-back performance. 

Beal said he anticipated Tatum would come out, “gunning. I know it.”

He added, “He forgot about that game and is looking forward to this one.”

He was right. 

Tatum didn’t take long to get it going offensively against the Wizards (2-7), scoring 11 points in the first quarter alone on 5-for-9 shooting from the field. 

Hitting up the practice facility within hours of the Mavericks game on Monday was part of Tatum’s put-that-one-behind-me program that as we saw against Washington on Wednesday, worked pretty well. 

When asked why he went to the practice facility right after the Dallas game, Tatum replied, “Just see some shots go in, really. Try to get my mind off the game and get back in a rhythm.”

Kemba Walker said he spoke with Tatum shortly before the game. 

“I told him, ‘You know, every night is not going to be the best night. It’s all about the bounce back,’” Walker recalled. “And he bounced back tonight. It was a huge game; a big game from him.”

It was important not only for the Celtics to continue on their winning ways, but also for Tatum’s growth into someone that many believe will eventually rank among the best in the NBA. 

“He’s a special talent,” Walker said. “I’m excited [about] the way he handled tonight’s game.”

Beal echoed similar sentiments about his fellow St. Louis native who also attended the same high school (Chaminade College Prep) as Beal years later.

“He’s a star, man; a star in the making,” Beal, who dropped 44 points on the Celtics, said of Tatum. “It’s amazing to be a part of his life, to see him grow every year to where he is now.”

The 26-year-old Beal has been an All-Star each of the last two seasons, so he knows all too well how challenging it can be to make that leap from being a good player, which is where Tatum is now, to being an All-Star, which Tatum has not been coy about as being one of his many goals. 

“He’s going to continue to get better. He’s going to hit bumps in the road,” Beal said. “He’s going to go through adversity. That’s just going to make him better and stronger.”

And seeing him up close now, Walker has gained a greater appreciation for not just Tatum’s talent but the amount of time he puts into his game to get better. 

“From his first season, watching from afar, and now being his teammate, I love the way he works on off days to improve his game,” Walker said. “We need that kid; we need him a lot. We need him to score big points for us and we need him to take on those challenges. There’ll be a lot more big games for that guy.”

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.