Jaylen Brown

Jayson Tatum Wants To Be On Celtics’ “Mount Rushmore”

In an interview with Jeff Goodman of The Messenger, Jayson Tatum talks about his desire to add his name to the long list of Celtics legends.

Tatum is off to a strong start, with nearly 10,000 career points, four All-Star appearances and several long playoff runs by age 25. But he understands that being an all-time great in Boston requires championship banners, and he hopes to win a few of those before he’s done.

“I would love to be on the Mount Rushmore of Celtics,” Tatum says.(Larry) Bird, (Bill) Russell, Paul Pierce and those guys. They paved the way. The one thing all those guys have is chips. I have to get to the top of the mountain to even be considered as one of those guys. I want to be an all-time great, I want to be known as a winner, and I believe I will be.”

A year ago, the Celtics appeared to be in a strong position to win their 18th title as they prepared to report to training camp. They were coming off a tough Finals loss to the Warriors and had added Danilo Gallinari to an already impressive roster.

Things began to unravel when head coach Ime Udoka was suspended on September 22. Gallinari suffered an ACL tear that wound up sidelining him for the entire season, and an injury kept Robert Williams out for the early part of the year.

“It was a lot, a lot to process and deal with,” Tatum said. “And I give us credit, we came together. I think it brought us together as a team. We had the second-best record. We could have had every excuse to start off slow and make excuses.”

Tatum touches on several other topics in the lengthy interview:

On head coach Joe Mazzulla, who was frequently the target of criticism, especially as Boston fell behind 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals:

“I think it was unfair. I don’t know what more Joe could have done. He wasn’t out there turning the ball over and missing free throws. That was us.”

On the loss of Marcus Smart, who was sent to Memphis in the Kristaps Porzingis trade and had been the team leader since Tatum arrived in 2017:

“I am for sure going to miss Smart. He was my teammate for six years and we’ve been through it all. We had good moments together, we had bad moments together. He’s somebody that I wish was going be my teammate forever.”

On the record-setting five-year, super-max extension that Jaylen Brown received this summer:

“I was excited for Jaylen, and I wasn’t surprised. That was a no-brainer for me because he deserves it. He had a hell of a year, the best year of his career, and he was rewarded for that. It was the right time. People make a big deal of $300 million. The NBA makes a lot of money. Contracts will be $350 and then $370 million. That’s the way it’s going. I was happy for him. I knew it was going to happen, it was a no-brainer, but I still reached out to him and told him he should be proud of himself and his family. Don’t take it for granted. This is generational.”

On his own NBA future and whether he wants to spend his entire career with one team:

“Just recently I started to feel the connection with Boston. I have spent my adult life here, my son has grown up here, I’ve grown up here. I’ve accomplished so many things. … You never know what can happen, but I love playing for the Celtics. I figured out my space in the city and have grown to really enjoy it. I love the fans. It would be really hard to leave this place.”

Atlantic Notes: Gardner, Fournier, Celtics Mock Draft

Center Patrick Gardner agreed to an Exhibit 10 contract with the Nets last month. He’s expecting to end up in the G League this season but hopes to make a major impression during training camp.

“I was fortunate enough to get a training camp invite for the Nets, then depending how I do here and in general, hopefully I could just keep moving up from there. I think I’m gonna be with the G League team, but you never know what could happen, just got to be prepared for all options,” Gardner told FIBA.Basketball.

Gardner is playing for Egypt during the World Cup and was on the Heat’s summer league squad. The Nets reached an agreement with him shortly after he went undrafted out of Marist.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Evan Fournier is confident he can still help the Knicks or another NBA club, he told Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.net. “Obviously, I want to play again. I want to have success. I know I can help. I know I can play, I know I can do many things,” said Fournier, who represented France during its disappointing World Cup run. Fournier’s career with the Knicks is in limbo as they seek a new home for him. He said last month he’d be “very surprised” if he played  for them this season.
  • With many NFL fantasy football managers drafting their teams this week, The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and Jay King conducted a mock draft of Celtics players. No surprise — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were the first two players off the board.
  • In case you missed it, the Nets’ Ben Simmons plans to come back with a vengeance during the upcoming season. Get the details here.

Atlantic Notes: Clowney, Embiid, Beverley, Hauser

Summer League gave Nets rookie Noah Clowney a chance to adjust to the speed of the NBA game before his first training camp, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Clowney struggled with his shot in Las Vegas, connecting at just 22.6% from the field and 23.5% beyond the arc, but he considers the experience a valuable one.

“Obviously the game is faster,” Clowney said. “It’s really all a bunch of small details, really — like screening angles, getting into screens faster, then getting out faster and things like that. What shots are good shots, if you don’t (have) a shot, get right into the next action. … You learn from it, and I think the only way you can learn from it is by going through the experience of that Summer League. So I’m glad I played in it. It was fun. I didn’t play my best, obviously. (My shooting) percentages were horrible. But it was a learning experience. I feel like that’s what it was supposed to be. So I’m happy with it.”

One of the youngest players in this year’s draft, Clowney just turned 19 in July, so he may spend much of his first season in the G League. He has drawn comparisons to starting center Nic Claxton, and Nets officials are optimistic about his long-term potential.

“I love the intangibles. I love how hard he competes. I love the length that he has,” general manager Sean Marks said. “When you have a 7-foot-3-inch wingspan, I can’t teach that. Our coaches can teach a lot of things, but they can’t teach that. I love the fact that he doesn’t shy away from shooting from the outside. He’s very versatile, can play a couple of different positions out there.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • France’s disappointment in this year’s World Cup doesn’t mean national team general manager Boris Diaw will be any more aggressive in recruiting Sixers center Joel Embiid for the 2024 Olympics, per Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops. Embiid has both French and U.S. citizenship, but he hasn’t committed to representing either country. “I don’t think it’s a pursuit. It’s about people who want to come,” Diaw said. “Some people come or don’t come to the national team for different reasons. He’s a special case for his own reasons. I don’t think there’s a way to be aggressive on our part.”
  • Sixers guard Patrick Beverley doesn’t believe the Celtics can win a title with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as the core of the team, relays Kaley Brown of Boston.com. “No – too much of the same player,” Beverley said on his podcast. “They don’t complement each other enough … they complement each other, but not enough.” Even so, Beverley added that Boston shouldn’t get rid of either player and said the team got “a lot better” by trading for Kristaps Porzingis.
  • Grant Williams‘ departure creates an opportunity for Celtics forward Sam Hauser to earn consistent minutes moving into his third NBA season, observes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Hauser briefly moved ahead of Williams in the rotation last season, and Weiss examines how he can best fit into coach Joe Mazzulla’s offense.

Celtics Notes: Brown, Wing Options, Pritchard, Frontcourt

Jaylen Brown‘s first game since signing a record contract with the Celtics came in an unlikely setting — the Big3 All-Star contest, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Brown, who became the first active NBA player to participate in a Big3 game, agreed to play because the event, which was held in England, helps to support the London Youth charity.

The decision is also part of Brown’s effort to promote Black-owned businesses, Jones adds. League co-founder Ice Cube told a CBS interviewer that he was “blown away” to have an NBA All-Star on hand.

“I asked him if he was sure he wanted to make this move,” Cube said. “And he was like ‘I want to do this for the game, for the players and it’s a big move for the league’ … This guy is my hero right now.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Of the four wings the team is working out this month, Lamar Stevens and T.J. Warren are probably looking for guaranteed money, while Louis King and Glenn Robinson III are more likely to agree to non-guaranteed camp deals, Brian Robb of Mass Live states in a mailbag column. Robb is skeptical about Warren because the Suns opted to let him leave in free agency rather than try to keep him on a minimum-salary deal. He sees Stevens as the best option because he would bring a defensive presence at the wing that rookie Jordan Walsh may not be ready to provide.
  • President of basketball operations Brad Stevens may have erred last year by trading for Malcolm Brogdon when the team had more pressing needs in its frontcourt, Robb adds. Payton Pritchard appeared ready for rotation minutes, but he was frequently kept on the bench because of the logjam in the backcourt. That should be less of a concern this season with Marcus Smart sent to Memphis in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, but Robb still doesn’t foresee Pritchard playing more than 25 minutes per game unless Brogdon gets injured. Pritchard is eligible for an extension until the start of the season, so the Celtics will have to figure out how he fits into their future.
  • Robb also believes Boston should focus on finding another big man before camp rather than relying on Luke Kornet or bringing back Blake Griffin. Oshae Brissett could fill some minutes in the frontcourt, but Robb sees a need for more depth considering the age and injury history of Porzingis, Robert Williams and Al Horford.

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Brown, Tatum

The Nets have a decision to make on their extension-eligible starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Injury-prone Ben Simmons has technically also become extension-eligible, but given how difficult it has been to find minutes for Simmons on the roster, Lewis doubts Brooklyn would be interested in extending the former All-Star.

Dinwiddie is currently earning $20.4MM in the last season of a lucrative three-year deal. Lewis notes that the 30-year-old’s veteran leadership and play-making remains valuable, and speculates that it might behoove team GM Sean Marks to re-sign him to a deal comparable to his current three-year, $54MM contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics All-NBA forward Jayson Tatum reflected on his All-NBA teammate Jaylen Brown‘s massive new five-year contract extension that could be worth as much as $304MM, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “Much deserved, it was a no-brainer,” Tatum told Washburn. “So I’m happy for him and his family. It’s life changing. It’s a big deal. I’m happy we’re going to have him for however much longer we’ve got him for. I’m happy about that.” Brown averaged 26.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.1 SPG across 67 contests with Boston last season. He and Tatum have been the centerpieces of a team that has appeared in four Conference Finals across its last six seasons, and one NBA Finals.
  • Washburn notes that, in the 2024 offseason, Tatum himself will become eligible for his own five-year super-max contract extension that would make him even higher paid than Brown. Washburn considers it inevitable that the Celtics will tender him an extension offer, given his standing on the team and in the league, but it’s not at the front of Tatum’s mind. “Nah, I don’t think about nothing of that,” Tatum said. “It’s one day at a time.”
  • In case you missed it, Sixers point guard James Harden reportedly does not intend to suit up for Philadelphia as he awaits a trade. The former All-Star opted into the final year of his current deal with the team in an effort to force a trade, rather than signing with another club in free agency this summer.

Wyc Grousbeck Explains Celtics’ Decision To Shake Up Roster

The Celtics reached the NBA Finals in 2022 and fell one game short of returning last season, but management decided changes were needed after the playoff loss to the Heat, co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said in an interview with Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

Grousbeck characterized the last two seasons as “missed opportunities,” even though he admitted his team lost to two good opponents. Following the playoffs, he had a meeting with president of basketball operations Brad Stevens and head coach Joe Mazzulla in which they decided to explore chances to revamp the roster. That led to a three-team trade in late June that brought Kristaps Porzingis to Boston.

“The general tone was, how do we take this energy we’re feeling right now that was built up over having two good seasons, but then didn’t get all the way,” Grousbeck said. “The whole point is, how do we get to banner 18? If we’d all agreed we should keep things the same, that would have been fine. But the idea of bringing in another talented big popped up early in the conversation, and we ended up executing on that idea.”

They decided to focus on Porzingis, who was facing a decision on a $36MM player option after a productive season with the Wizards. Porzingis had other interested teams if he had opted for free agency, but Grousbeck said he was eager to join the Celtics.

“He is a committed and now seasoned and effective player. He’s a real force. I’m really impressed with his commitment to being part of a winning Celtics team,” Grousbeck said. “I met with him when he came up for the press conference and spent some real time with him, and he’s so happy to be here. He’s so ready to shine at this stage of his career. But he sees a team concept, not the KP show. He’s continually improved over his career, and he thinks this is his prime. But he’s about the team, his teammates and the banner. He chose us. There were other people, I hear, that wanted him. And he chose us. He wants to be here and he wants to win a ring.”

Grousbeck covers several other topics in the interview, including:

The commitment to Mazzulla, who faced criticism in the playoffs in his first year running the team:

“If Joe had done a poor job, I would have thought about replacing him, but he did a very good job. He took us within one game of the best record in the league and then one game of being in the Finals, as a rookie coach. So I’m comfortable and happy to have Joe as head coach.”

The Celtics’ willingness to spend despite restrictions in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement:

“The league doesn’t allow us to comment on the details of the CBA, but having said that, we’re obviously all in, with the record contract for Jaylen (Brown) and with our payroll this year and in coming years. Eventually, there are basketball penalties for spending, so that will go into the thought process down the road. But at the moment, the best basketball thing we can do is what we’re doing.”

Heading into the future with Brown and Jayson Tatum as franchise cornerstones:

“They’re the best two people I could imagine building a team around. We’ve had them since the beginning. We’ve been very lucky to have them here for their whole careers, and we’re building the team around them. But you add the next eight guys to the list. You take our top 10 and we’ve got a really good team. The focus is naturally on those two because they’re All-NBA players and All-Stars, but I like the whole roster.”

Atlantic Notes: Harrell, Nets, Hart, Brown

Although reserve big man Montrezl Harrell tore the ACL and medial meniscus in his right knee this summer, the Sixers intend to keep him on their roster, at least for the time being, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Though Pompey notes that Harrell, who inked a one-year, minimum-salary contract to return to the Sixers, most likely will not recuperate in time to play for the team in 2023/24, he believes retaining the former Sixth Man of the Year is the right play. Pompey suggests the Sixers could look to package his salary in a trade later.

Given that Harrell was the third or possibly fourth center on the club’s depth chart, he wasn’t likely to have played major minutes anyway. The 6’7″ vet averaged 5.6 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 2022/23, his lowest numbers since his 2015/16 rookie season.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets still have three roster spots – including one two-way slot – open ahead of training camp this fall, Net Income of Nets Daily writes. Net Income notes that the team still has its bi-annual exception and full mid-level exception at its disposal, and its $157MM in cumulative player salary puts it $9MM beneath the NBA’s $165MM luxury tax threshold. The free agent market at this point is a bit threadbare, so one wonders if Brooklyn would opt to use more than a veteran’s minimum on any of the still-available personnel.
  • Knicks swingman Josh Hart becomes extension-eligible on August 9, but as Fred Katz of The Athletic notes, that isn’t stopping him from partaking in Team USA during this month’s FIBA World Cup. Katz writes that the typical move these days for players with big money potentially on the line is to preserve their bodies and avoid possible offseason injuries until a deal is done, but Hart is happy to buck that trend. An extension of his current deal could net him, at most, a four-year contract worth up to $81.3MM.
  • Although he inked a new five-year, maximum-salary contract extension this offseason, All-Star Celtics wing Jaylen Brown still has one glaring issue in his game: protecting the ball. As Jared Weiss of The Athletic notes, Brown coughed up the ball 66 times during the 2023 playoffs, including eight incredibly costly turnovers in a Game 7 Eastern Conference Finals defeat against the Heat. Weiss takes a look at how Brown might be able to limit this particular problem going forward.

How 2024 Cap Increase Will Determine Value Of Brown’s Record-Setting Contract

When Jaylen Brown agreed to a five-year, super-max extension with the Celtics, it was widely reported to be a $304MM deal. That number is subject to change though, since the value of the contract will depend on the value of the NBA’s 2024/25 salary cap, which won’t be officially determined until next June.

Brown’s contract will start at 35% of the ’24/25 cap and will feature 8% annual raises after that.

The $304MM estimate for Brown’s super-max deal is based on a projected salary cap increase of 10%. The NBA and NBPA have agreed not to increase the cap by more than 10% per year in order to avoid a repeat of the 2016 offseason, when a 34.5% bump helped create a Warriors super-team and resulted in a number of regrettable contracts for other teams around the league.

With that ceiling in mind, a 10% cap increase next summer would represent a best-case scenario for Brown. But it’s also a realistic outcome — the cap has risen by 10% in each of the past two offseasons, so it’s forecasting it to happen again is certainly within reason.

If the cap were to increase 10% for 2024/25, Brown’s contract would look like this:

Year Salary
2024/25 $52,368,050
2025/26 $56,557,494
2026/27 $60,746,938
2027/28 $64,936,382
2028/29 $69,125,826
Total $303,734,690

Of course, the NBA hasn’t actually formally projected a 10% cap increase for 2024/25, so it’s a little early to lock in those figures for Brown.

If the cap were to instead increase by a more modest 5%, his deal would instead look like this:

Year Salary
2024/25 $49,987,700
2025/26 $53,986,716
2026/27 $57,985,732
2027/28 $61,984,748
2028/29 $65,983,764
Total $289,928,660

In either case, Brown’s contract would become the richest deal in NBA history, comfortably surpassing Nikola Jokic‘s five-year, $276,122,630 deal that begins in 2023/24. The only scenario in which Brown’s extension wouldn’t exceed Jokic’s is if the salary cap doesn’t increase at all in a year — then Brown’s deal would look exactly the same as Jokic’s.

A lot could happen in the next 11 months, but it would require very unusual circumstances for the cap not to rise at all. Since 2010, that has only happened amidst shortened seasons (due to a lockout and the COVID-19 pandemic). So we can confidently project Brown’s contract to be worth more than Jokic’s.

For what it’s worth, Brown won’t be the only player earning 35% of the cap in 2024/25. Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns also signed super-max contracts that will go into effect a year from now, and their deals will look exactly the same as Brown’s from 2024-28. The only reason those aren’t considered record-setting contracts in their own right is because they’ll cover four years instead of five, since Booker and Towns signed extensions with two years left on their respective contracts rather than just one.

Of course, even Brown’s record is unlikely to stand for long. With an in-season tournament being introduced later this year and a new media rights deal around the corner, the NBA’s revenue and salary cap will likely only continue to grow in the coming years.

Brown’s Celtics teammate Jayson Tatum, who met the super-max performance criteria this spring and will meet the service time criteria in 2024, is the best bet to be the next recipient of the richest contract in league history. If the cap increases by 10% next year and another 10% in 2025, this is what a super-max deal for Tatum could look like:

Year Salary
2025/26 $57,604,750
2026/27 $62,213,130
2027/28 $66,821,510
2028/29 $71,429,890
2029/30 $76,038,270
Total $334,107,550

Celtics Notes: Brown, Brissett, Banton, Madar, Begarin

The trade kicker on Jaylen Brown‘s new super-max extension with the Celtics is worth either 7% of his remaining salary or $7MM, whichever is lesser, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

Brown’s trade kicker won’t be relevant until at least the 2025/26 season, since a player is ineligible to receive a full trade bonus if it would push his salary beyond his maximum. He’ll be earning the max (35% of the cap) in ’24/25, but not necessarily in seasons beyond that, since the cap could increase at a greater rate than his contract does.

Brown will receive 8% annual raises, so if the cap rises by 10% per year, he’d be earning below the max in later years of the extension. His trade kicker would ensure he earns as much as $7MM in extra money if he’s dealt at that point.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • After signing the richest contract in NBA history, Brown is feeling more pressure to use his wealth to make a “tangible impact” off the court rather than to win a championship on it, as Weiss details within the same Athletic story. “The first thing that came to mind is like ‘Dang, look what all you can do with it now,'” Brown said. “Like how much you can invest into your community, what you can build with it, what you can change, how many lives you can touch, and what you can do in real-time.”
  • As long as the Celtics are at full strength, Brian Robb of MassLive doesn’t expect there to be too many minutes available for newcomers like Oshae Brissett, Dalano Banton, and Jordan Walsh. Of the three, Brissett probably has the best chance to earn a rotation role, according to Robb, who believes Banton will be more of a defensive specialist and developmental project.
  • Within the same mailbag, Robb writes that the Celtics remain high on draft-and-stash players Yam Madar (the No. 47 overall pick in 2020) and Juhann Begarin (No. 45 in 2021) despite not feeling that either is NBA-ready yet. Robb speculates that those former second-rounders could be logical additions to fill back-end roster spots on the cheap in future seasons as super-max deals for Brown and Jayson Tatum hit the team’s books.
  • Longtime voice of the Celtics Mike Gorman will retire after the 2023/24 season, per NBC Sports Boston. The veteran play-by-play man has been calling Celtics games since 1981. “Celtics Nation… you are the best and there is no other group of dedicated fans I would have chosen to take this ride with,” Gorman said as part of a larger statement. “I very much look forward to my final season with all of you — and thank you again for allowing me to be a part of your lives.”

Celtics Notes: Brown, Smart, Porzingis, Brogdon, White

After signing his extension on Wednesday, Jaylen Brown reflected on the changes the Celtics have undergone since losing in the conference finals, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. The most significant move was sending Marcus Smart to Memphis in a three-team trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis. Brown said that even though he and Smart clashed frequently over the years, things won’t be the same without his “brother” and one of his best friends on the team.

“Marcus has been somebody that’s, like, we butted heads at times, we fought, we did it all, we put each other in headlocks, etc.,” Brown said. “The journey won’t feel the same without him to be honest. But it’s a part of life, it’s a part of what you do going forward and everything he’s instilled into this organization, everything he’s instilled into this community is still going to be with us, still carried with us. So we’re going to wish him well on his new journey. Obviously the city of Boston is going to feel the loss of his impact when he’s no longer here, but we’ll be able to keep moving forward.”

Brown indicated that he understands why the deal was made and he sees the benefit of having a versatile big man like Porzingis. However, he wants to make sure the Celtics don’t lose the intensity and commitment to defense that Smart inspired.

“I think what Kristaps can bring to us defensively and the additions some of our other guys can bring to us defensively,” Brown said. “… With Marcus gone, we don’t want our defensive identity to go out the door as well, so we have to really emphasize that at the start of training camp.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Brown wasn’t upset that it took more than three weeks to work out his extension, Robb adds in a separate story. Some of that delay was due to an overseas trip that Brown took as part of his duties as an NBPA vice president, but much of the time was needed to reach an agreement on non-monetary details. “I thought from my standpoint, they understood where I came from, I understood where he came from,” Brown said. “It was all about being in the place where it made sense for everybody and I was glad that we were able to finish it, get everything done and be able to have the community here.”
  • The Celtics are going through a “healing process” and a “listening process” with Malcolm Brogdon, coach Joe Mazzulla told Souichi Terada of MassLive. It appeared Brogdon was going to be moved in an early version of the Porzingis trade, but that changed when the Clippers pulled out because they didn’t have time to review Brogdon’s medical records before Porzingis picked up his option.
  • Mazzulla confirmed that Derrick White will replace Smart as the starting point guard, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.