But is there a benefit to both sides in getting a bit creative with a new deal?
“It’s really going to be up to Jaylen and what he wants to do here,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports. “He’s going to want what’s available (five years at some $295 million beginning with the 2024-25 season), but there might be a lesson with how the Bradley Beal situation played out.”
Beal had finished the first year of a supermax contract, and was about to be freed from the ever-rebuilding Wizards. Some teams were said to be scared off by the tax implications.
“It was a hard contract to move,” said the exec. “Bradley might have been stuck in Washington if it hadn’t been for the new guy in Phoenix (owner Mat Ishbia) wanting to make a splash. And he got pushed by KD (Kevin Durant) to add that third guy. Kevin was the driver in that regard. And Bradley still had to give up his no-trade clause and (15%) trade kicker to make it work.”
Option Years Could Offer Brown an Out
Presented with this and asked about a potential effect for the Celtics and Brown, another non-team source who’s involved in player negotiations paused and said, “That’s certainly an interesting way to look at it.
“What if,” he went on, “Boston offered him an opt-out after three years (of the extension) and a team option after four years? That allows him to look at where the market is then after the new media deals are done and streaming comes in with Amazon and Apple and all those folks bidding to get in. Things could look a lot different then. But that team option would also give the Celtics a chance to reset if things don’t work out for whatever reason — injuries to the core rotation or things like that. They’d still have to buy Jaylen out, but the number would be less than the $65-or-so million on the contract.
“If Jaylen and Jayson do deliver, Jaylen could opt out after three (again, actually four when you factor in the year still left on his current deal), come back and hold them up for more. He gets to bet on himself, and the team is able to get out a little earlier for less. Jaylen would still make out in the second case, because he’d be free to sign elsewhere.”
According to the first source, some teams are starting to operate in windows of three to four years.
“The key is you don’t want to be overloaded when you have to rebuild,” he said. “You want to have the flexibility to add to what you have — and you’re going to need space or exceptions for that, which is harder to come by with the new CBA — or you want to be able to clear your decks if you need to make bigger changes. Danny (Ainge) was able to do that 10 years ago because he had a couple of big-name players and an owner in Brooklyn who was all excited about having Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on his team.”
Grant Williams Offers Limited to Mid-level Exception?
The need for financial peace of mind with the new collective bargaining agreement is a great concern. And it could well be the factor that keeps restricted free agent Grant Williams from returning to the Celtics.
“There are definitely teams that like him, but I think no matter how it plays out and where he winds up, he’s probably going to come in for about mid-level exception money, around $12 million a year,” said a front office source from another club. “I don’t think he’s a cap-room offer — a guy you use room under the cap to sign. He’s more of an exception slot guy. I’m not sure you want to burn cap room on Grant Williams.”
Finding the right fit is going to be more difficult for some on both the player and team side, said a general manager.
“That’s why it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Kyrie (Irving, an unrestricted free agent),” he said. “I’m not sure who Dallas will be bidding against. The teams that could really want Kyrie will have a hard time fitting him in.
“I think there has to be a readjustment of what star means in the league today and what superstar means in the league today — but it’s probably never going to happen. We’ve got grade inflation here, like in school where everybody gets a B or an A. We’ve allowed that inflation. I love Bradley Beal as a player, but he can’t deliver it by himself.
“Jaylen Brown is a different story. He’s a terrific player, but part of the reason he’s going to get the supermax is because they need to do it to make sure he stays. And even though he’s gotten better and there’s every reason to think he’ll keep getting better, he can still be a critical player on a championship team even if he’s not the best player. And you have to think about whether you can replace him, which is hard, probably impossible, to do for where they are with the cap and what he can do.
“But a year later when Tatum comes up for an extension and you have two supermax guys, then you really have to deliver. And it’ll be tougher to fill in around them because of the new rules.”
The GM added that Kristaps Porzingis is a great pickup for the Celtics (“Having an extra big who’s that good will allow them to manage all their minutes better”), though he wonders about the loss of Marcus Smart in the trade.
“They’ve bought into the idea that talent is going to be the trump card here, and we know Marcus isn’t as talented as Jayson or Jaylen,” he said. “But what does he bring to the table that they don’t, and how important an ingredient is that? Only time will tell.”