Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum: Boston’s $600 Million Question

On the brink of elimination, the Celtic teammates were both voted All-NBA

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown celebrate against the 76ers.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will get paid, but will it be by the Celtics?
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum may not get out of the second round of the playoffs for the third time since they have been teammates on the Boston Celtics, but they are both going to get paid handsomely after being named All-NBA players yesterday. The question is, will they be getting monster paydays from the Green?

With 26-year-old Brown earning a spot on the All-NBA second team and 25-year-old Tatum securing first-team honors, both players are now eligible to sign Designated Veteran Extensions (also known as “supermax” contracts). “Typically, players cannot sign deals worth more than 30% of the cap until the start of their 10th season, but all-NBA status allows players to secure a salary worth 35% of the cap before their eighth or ninth season,” Sportico explains.

Eligible to sign his supermax contract this summer, Brown can now secure a deal that would pay him approximately $290 million over five years as opposed to the $190 million over four years the Celtics could have offered their star forward had he not earned All-NBA honors. Eligible to sign his extension next summer, Tatum can ink a deal with Boston that would pay him north of $308 million over five seasons. If they both sign, Brown’s new contract would kick in for the 2024-25 season and Tatum’s would begin in 2025-26.

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With a valuation of $3.92 billion as the fifth-most valuable team in the NBA, the Celtics certainly could afford to pay both of their young stars and copy the way the Golden State Warriors have maintained their roster by going over the NBA’s luxury tax by a huge amount in order to keep their talent. But a key distinction to make is that Golden State’s franchise, which paid approximately as much for its championship roster ($176 million) as it did in luxury tax payments ($170 million) last season, is worth almost double ($7.56 billion) what the Celtics are worth. Boston’s franchise is valuable, but the Celtics are not the most valuable team in the league like the Warriors are nor do they have Golden State’s disposable income.

Maxing out both Tatum and Brown would not break the bank for the Celtics, but it might limit Boston’s ability to pay for a strong supporting cast if the team’s owners want to avoid going deep into the luxury tax the way Golden State has been doing.

In addition to the financial ramifications of maxing out Brown and Tatum, there’s still the question of whether they make a strong enough tandem to get the Celtics to a championship. They’re both excellent individual players and they have shown increased chemistry over the past two seasons, but the Celtics are maddeningly inconsistent and Boston has a tendency to play down to the level of their competition. Since teams tend to take on the personality of their top stars, it’s fair to question if Brown and Tatum are good leaders or just great players. For a team to win it all in the NBA, it generally has to have both.

So how will Boston respond to the $600 million Brown-Tatum question? The answer, or at least a portion of it, may hinge on Game 6 against the 76ers tonight. If the Celtics don’t win and make it to Game 7, there’s a chance, albeit a small one, it could be the first step toward either Brown or Tatum eventually leaving Boston.

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