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Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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The Celtics’ $600 Million Duo Fits Comfortably Under the NBA Salary Cap for Now

  • Jaylen Brown agreed to the richest deal in NBA history last summer.
  • Now Jayson Tatum is eligible to outdo Brown with a $315 million extension.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Eleven months ago, the Celtics signed Jaylen Brown to the richest contract in NBA history, a five-year supermax extension worth $303.7 million. 

The investment paid off quickly. Monday night, the team captured its NBA-record 18th title, cruising past the Mavericks in five games. Brown was the Finals MVP after winning the same honor in the Eastern Conference finals. 

Now to chase their next title, they’ll have to once again sign a player to the richest contract the league has seen. This time, it’s Jayson Tatum. 

By making all-NBA first team for the third straight season, Tatum is eligible to sign a five-year extension worth $315 million this summer. It’s slightly more valuable than Brown’s due to the increase in the salary cap.

Technically, Tatum still has two years left on his contract, ending with a player option. Signing an extension would change the terms of that final year and start the extension for the 2025–26 season. 

Ahead of Monday’s Game 5, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported he spoke with Tatum’s agent, Joe Wexler, who said there hasn’t been extension talks in-season but doesn’t expect it to be an issue. 

“Interestingly enough, [Wexler] says he and Tatum have not discussed the elements of that deal all season. He says Tatum hasn’t talked about postseason MVP awards. The only thing he’s talked about is winning a championship.” 

The Celtics have one other piece of unfinished business this summer: Derrick White is also eligible for a four-year, $126 million contract. During Boston’s second-round series against the Cavaliers, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said he wants White back.

“We’d love to have Derrick as long as we can have Derrick,” Stevens said. “I haven’t been in this job long, but that one doesn’t feel like brain surgery to me.”

The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement is designed to make teams prohibitively expensive to keep together, but the Celtics are nowhere near that point. They’re set to run a payroll around $195 million next year, putting them over the second apron and into the tax again.

Every key player is under contract through next season. That’s when the really hard decisions will arrive: Brown, Tatum, Jrue Holiday, and Kristaps Porziņģis are set to make a combined $170 million starting in 2025—26.

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