The Celtics have until the evening of October 21 – the day before the NBA’s regular season begins – to finalize a rookie scale extension with young swingman Jaylen Brown and keep him off the 2020 restricted free agent market. However, a league source tells Sean Deveney of Heavy.com that the chances of the two sides agreeing to a new deal by next month’s deadline look “pretty slim.”
So far this offseason, three rookie scale extensions have been completed. Jamal Murray and Ben Simmons signed maximum-salary deals projected to be worth at least $168MM over five years. Caris LeVert, meanwhile, signed a three-year, $52MM extension with Brooklyn.
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Presumably, if the Celtics and Brown were to reach a deal, it would come in somewhere between those two figures, but that gap is a substantial one. The C’s may look at Brown’s and LeVert’s 2018/19 numbers and argue that Brown’s next contract should be closer to LeVert’s range. Brown’s camp, on the other hand, believes his upside warrants a deal closer to what Murray and Simmons got, writes Deveney.
As Deveney points out, the Celtics haven’t exhibited an eagerness in recent years to lock up rookie scale extension candidates, preferring to let those players reach restricted free agency. None of the team’s first-round picks between 2012-15 – Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier – inked extensions prior to free agency.
Even if the Celtics push harder to extend Brown, he has some incentive to wait on a new deal if Boston doesn’t meet his asking price. 2020’s free agent class is expected to be especially weak, so a big 2019/20 could put the 22-year-old in position for a huge payday.
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“It only takes one team to think he is a max player and then he is a max player,” one NBA executive told Deveney. “You don’t see a lot of max deals in restricted free agency and the Celtics can match, so it’s still something that can work in their favor. But there will be teams with money next summer and making an offer for a guy his age, with his best basketball in front of him, makes sense.”