Jaylen Brown's long-term future with the Boston Celtics is murky at best. But his short-term future might be clearer than you think.
The Celtics' All-Star wing is eligible to sign a "supermax" contract extension this offseason that would pay him 35 percent of Boston's salary cap (roughly $290 million) over a five-year span. Right now, the public debate is whether the Celtics will offer him that extension or trade him to another team that in theory would ink him to a max extension before his contract expires in 2024.
But if the C's explore the trade route with Brown, it's worth mentioning an important detail that might make teams wary of parting with premium assets to acquire him.
As salary cap expert Ryan Bernardoni explained to our Chris Forsberg on a recent Celtics Talk Podcast, the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement requires teams to wait at least six months to negotiate an extension with any player after trading for him.
"The problem is that any other team that trades for (Brown) really cannot extend him," Bernardoni told Forsberg. "... Anybody trading for him has a six-month waiting period on extending him."
Even after that six-month period passes, Bernardoni noted, it would still be in Brown's best interest to just sign a new contract as an unrestricted free agent next offseason instead of accepting an extension during the 2023-24 season.
"If it's a team that's not going to be under the salary cap -- which, because of the new rules on the salary floor, is going to be nobody six months after they trade for him -- then the only way that they can extend him is to extend him basically up to his 30 percent max, but carrying over his current incentives," Bernardoni said.
"And once he's halfway through the year, why wouldn't he just wait until the end of the year to sign a new contract that gets rid of those incentives and just pays him the full 30 percent and gets him a player option and whatever else he wants? It would just make more sense in any circumstance for him to wait through the year."
That means any team trading for Brown this offseason would do so under the risk that the 26-year-old could leave after just one season.
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"Who is the team that's going to take that risk and give the Celtics back something that they want that keeps them in contention now?" Bernardoni added. " ... I just don't know what the market is right now. You want to tell me that the Rockets want him so badly that they would do it? Or that Atlanta thinks, 'Well, he's from Atlanta, we can definitely re-sign him'? Or his agent says, 'OK, I promise that will re-sign'? Well, we've seen players who make that sort of back-channel commitment and then just change their mind, right? Things don't go as well as you would hope and they don't work out.
"So who is the team that's going to trade for him now to give the Celtics everything that they would need in order to feel confident moving forward? As opposed to (the Celtics) just playing out next season (with Brown) and saying, 'Look, we were some bad injury timing and really awful shooting luck away from back-to-back (NBA) Finals appearances, despite the fact that we had a new coach who was elevated on the eve of the season and a whole host of other things.'
"Why wouldn't you just run it back again next year and see if you can win a title?"
As Bernardoni pointed out, the Celtics always could offer Brown the supermax, then explore trading him in 2024, 2025 or beyond if they continue to come up short in their title quest. In those scenarios, they'd likely have more suitors for Brown considering he'd be on a long-term contract, which would increase his value in any trade discussions.
If the C's receive a slam-dunk offer for Brown this offseason, perhaps they'd consider dealing him. But the more realistic scenario seems to be Brown signing the supermax and staying in Boston for at least one more season.