Celtics

Celtics

Scratch another name off the list of top potential 2020 free agents.

Brooklyn Nets wing Caris LeVert reportedly agreed to a three-year, $52.5 million extension Sunday, according to ESPN. With the just-turned-25-year-old LeVert locked up, Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown shuffles another spot higher on an already thin list of potentially available players next summer.

Both LeVert and Golden State's Draymond Green have taken less-than-max money this summer in the quest for long-term security. Assuming Anthony Davis re-signs with the Lakers after this season, that leaves the likes of Pascal Siakam, Brown, and New Orleans’ Brandon Ingram as potential top options — though all are restricted — next summer.

How might LeVert’s extension impact Brown?

At an average annual value of $17.5 million, the Nets seemingly got a sweetheart of a deal. But Celtics fans shouldn’t expect to get Brown at a similar number unless he has an underwhelming 2019-20 season. For all of LeVert’s potential, he’s two years older than Brown and has an injury history.

While many teams will likely hoard cap space for a potentially loaded 2021 summer, there are still going to be deep-pocketed suitors who could do worse than to splurge big money on a 23-year-old Brown, who has played some of his best basketball in each of the past two postseasons.

Just hours after reports of LeVert’s extension, Brown put up a team-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting while helping Team USA to an exhibition win over Canada on Monday.

The Celtics and Brown have until the eve of the 2019-20 season to examine an extension and Brown can force the issue a bit with a loud showing at the FIBA championships in China. Team USA opens World Cup play on Sept. 1 against the Czech Republic.

In Team USA’s four exhibitions, Brown has registered 47 points on 20 of 28 shooting overall (71.4 percent). He’s third on Team USA in scoring behind only Celtics teammate Kemba Walker and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell. 

Brown can position himself to make upwards of max money by showing his progress both at FIBA but especially during the upcoming season. The Celtics have to decide if they are willing to commit a big-money offer to Brown before the start of the season or run the risk of letting him get to free agency.

With the right to match any offer, there’s limited risk for Boston, particularly if Brown’s price tag is already high. It might help Boston, too, to have a player motivated to show he deserves max money.

The Celtics have rarely extended rookies but have routinely made strong offers to extension-eligible players, including Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. With a big payday looming further out for 2017 draftee Jayson Tatum, the Celtics have to be diligent in the money they commit moving forward, particularly if they desire to be players in the summer of 2021 when they could potentially hunt another star before committing big money to Tatum.

Only Walker ($36 million) and Marcus Smart ($14.3 million) are currently on the books for big money after the 2020-21 season.

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