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Grading Jaylen Brown’s supermax extension with the Celtics

Brown lands the richest contract in NBA history.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Seven
Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics attempts a three point basket during the first quarter against the Miami Heat in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 29, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics and Jaylen Brown agreed on a five-year, $304 supermax contract Tuesday, scoring Brown the richest contract in NBA history. The year-by-year salary numbers are quite gaudy and the Celtics have effectively committed to staying the course with Brown and Jayson Tatum as the centerpieces of the franchise.

Brown had a career year in key statistical categories last season, setting highs in shooting percentage, rebounds per game and points per game. The Celtics are going to reset the market with this deal but they didn’t have much of a choice when it came to paying Brown. And if the Celtics weren’t going to pay him this type of money, some team who traded for him would have.

Boston’s future salary sheet is going to be concerning, especially with Tatum up for an extension soon. He’s going to want more than Brown, and he is the better player. Kristaps Porzingis, who the Celtics acquired in a trade, will also be a potential big extension for Boston. The Celtics should be able to contend with that trio but they may have to cut some costs around the fringes going forward.

Contract Grade: B

Take away the contract numbers for a moment. Brown is a great player and despite his playoff struggles, he’s been largely competent in the tandem with Tatum. Those two have combined for four conference finals trips and one NBA Finals trip, and both are in their mid-20s. The Celtics had no reason to break this up, and had to pay a premium to do so.

The salary cap is going to keep rising in the NBA, and there are going to be deals that eventually top this one. Brown isn’t as good as his contract suggests, but pretty soon he won’t be the richest contract in the league and his number will be comparable to a lot of other players who don’t possess his production. There’s sticker shock in the immediate aftermath because he’s the first player to get this type of deal, but there are other players in the $60 million per year club who are older or more injury-prone.

There’s a strong chance this deal will be looked back on in a few years as a great decision, provided the cap keeps rising as expected and Brown continues to produce as he’s done in the last few seasons.