Why Jaylen Brown playing at All-NBA level is a big deal for Celtics




 

Forsberg: Jaylen Brown's All-NBA push has financial implications originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Jaylen Brown's loud start to the 2022-23 season has generated All-NBA buzz. Teammate Malcolm Brogdon invoked the honor while assessing Brown's 34-point output that helped the Boston Celtics to a win on Sunday night in Brooklyn.

Brown knows a thing or two about big first quarters. He erupted for 20 points -- 22 if you count his inadvertent tip-in of a missed Brooklyn Nets free throw -- in the first quarter on Sunday. But his monster first quarter of the season has put him in a conversation that could have major long-term implications for the Celtics.

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If Brown lands one of 15 All-NBA berths this season, he could trigger the criteria for the designated veteran player exception that could put him in position to sign a supermax extension with the Celtics this offseason.

That extension could pay him roughly $290 million over five seasons, depending on where the cap lands for the 2024-25 campaign. With an All-NBA season, Brown could command a first-year salary starting at 35 percent of whatever the cap is that season, with current projections suggesting a $50 million starting salary.

When Brown became extension eligible this past summer, he had no reason to ponder what Boston could offer. All-NBA trigger or not, Brown stands to command a monster payday when his current deal ends in the summer of 2024. But generating All-NBA status would position Brown to lock in supermax money a year early and take some of the drama out of the proceedings.

The Celtics would be securing Brown's services before he could be courted by any rivals. Boston is still positioned to offer Brown more money than any other team in the summer of 2024, regardless of his All-NBA status in each of the next two seasons, but both player and team could get some much coveted security.

When Brown was apprised of Brogdon's All-NBA declaration after Sunday's triumph, Brown reaffirmed that winning is his No. 1 priority, echoing his consistent message since Boston fell to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 Finals.

"I love to play this game and I work hard and I improve," Brown told reporters in Brooklyn. "To get caught up in accolades and how people feel and the politics of the game, it's not really my concern. I want to get to the playoffs and I want to show what I can do there.

"I think I can play with the best of them. I know what my capabilities are. But my emphasis right now is on winning games, and leading this team back to the Finals. So that's where my point of emphasis is. Anything else that comes along, whatever. But I'm really focused on getting us back to the NBA Finals."

Brown, whose named danced in Brooklyn trade rumors this summer, didn't produce his flashiest game of the season Sunday, but it might have been his most complete outing. Brown added 10 rebounds, four blocks, two steals, and two assists. And it was the column he didn't dent that was the most notable, as he didn't commit a single turnover.

Too often Brown's ball security woes have detracted from his best outings. But on a night where Boston as a team got a bit sloppy for stretches, Brown was a steadying presence. Brown gave the Celtics a jolt after a sluggish start and shouldered the offensive load until Jayson Tatum took the baton at the finish line.

Over his last five games, Brown is averaging 31.6 points while shooting 54 percent from the field, 37.8 percent beyond the 3-point arc, and 90 percent at the free throw line. Brown has shuffled to 13th in the NBA in scoring at 27 points per game overall.

Brown's usage rate has climbed this year but so too has his efficiency. His points per 100 shot attempts was 6.4 points higher than last season entering Sunday's action, per Cleaning the Glass data. Brown was shooting 51 percent on all midrange attempts (91st percentile among all wings). He's shooting 69 percent at the rim and more frequently bulldozing his way there (last year, only 30 percent of his shots came at the rim; this year, he's at 38 percent).

Brown's exploits have helped the Celtics build the best record in basketball through 24 games. And team success could go a long way to helping him state a strong case for All-NBA consideration.

It's a slam dunk that both Brown and Tatum, as long as they stay healthy, will get All-Star nods. A glut of individual talent across the league complicates Brown's path to one of the three five-man All-NBA teams.

Brown probably isn't sweating his next payday -- big money is coming one way or another. He already carries a $28.7 million cap hit this year and $30.7 million next year (with some incentives that could drive those totals slightly higher).

But, like every profession, money is undeniably something players think about. In the Brad Stevens era, the Celtics have sought to lock up their core players, with Al Horford inking a two-year extension last week. This after Stevens inked both Marcus Smart and Robert Williams to long-term extensions two summers ago during his early days as president of basketball operations.

Forsberg: Al Horford extension is another win for Brad Stevens

Even if Brown doesn't get All-NBA in either of the next two seasons, he's still in line to command nearly $250 million from the Celtics when he reaches free agency again. Rivals can't offer the additional fifth year and are limited to smaller annual raises, driving down the overall value of their offers. Brown still has plenty of incentive to stick in Boston even if he doesn't land on an All-NBA squad.

The Celtics, it should be noted, would also have to be willing to spend big to keep Brown. Tatum, after missing out on an All-NBA escalator two summers ago, is in year two of a five-year, $163 million extension that pays an average annual value of $32.6 million. Brown could command roughly $15 million more per year starting in 2024-25 season. Brown's on/off splits are not as sexy as Tatum, who has positioned himself in the MVP conversation early this year, but Brown's impact is undeniable.

Even more encouraging is Brown's relentless desire to improve each year.

If Tatum and Brown have established themselves as the best duo in basketball, it's probably a no-brainer for Boston to extend. Paying two players at least $85 million per season complicates roster building, and money allocation across the rest of the roster gets a little harder as the tax bill surges, but this team has been willing to spend to field a title contender.

Brown's focus may be on winning. But the conversation around his All-NBA pursuit will be a major storyline throughout this season (and maybe next) if he continues to play at this level. And winning is only going to stoke that conversation more.

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