The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement may improve the Celtics’ chances to lock up a long-term future with Jaylen Brown.
The NBA and the NBA Players’ Association agreed to a tentative deal on a new seven-year CBA in the early hours of Saturday morning that will cover the rest of the decade. The league and players are expected to ratify the agreement – which would begin for the start of the 2023-24 season – in the coming weeks before it becomes official, according to ESPN.
ESPN and The Athletic reported several details of the new CBA, and one major change in the deal could have immediate ripple effects for the Celtics on contract negotiations with Brown, whose future in Boston has been the subject of widespread speculation in the last couple of weeks after his recent comments to The Ringer.
Brown is in the third year of his four-year deal with the Celtics and will be eligible for a contract extension this summer. Under current CBA rules, the Celtics can only offer a 120% increase in Brown’s current salary ($31.8 million in 2023-24) as the starting point for a contract extension. Under those guidelines, Brown would be allowed to sign a four-year extension worth $165 million, which is less than the max and doesn’t give Brown incentive to sign before hitting free agency in the summer of 2024. But the new CBA will increase the veteran extension limit from 120% to 140%, meaning Brown can receive a four-year, $189 million max contract at 30 percent of the salary cap.
If that change is confirmed, there would be less drama surrounding Brown’s looming All-NBA candidacy. Under the current framework – as MassLive’s Brian Robb explained – the Celtics’ hopes of locking Brown up to a max extension hinged on him making one of the All-NBA teams this season, which would allow the Celtics to offer him a supermax extension of five years, $290 million. But if he doesn’t get an All-NBA nod, Brown can still sign a max extension under the new CBA.
The league will require that players play a minimum of 65 games to be eligible for postseason awards, including MVP and All-NBA selections as it looks for solutions to its stars sitting out games for load management. According to ESPN, the 65-game minimum will come with conditions but those are unknown right now.
Among MVP frontrunners this season, several players are hovering around that 65-game requirement with one week remaining in the regular season. Nikola Jokic (67 games) and Jayson Tatum (72 games) have surpassed it but Luka Doncic (62 games), Joel Embiid (63 games) and Giannis Antetekounmpo (61 games) are below. Obviously, those numbers would likely change with more incentive to play in more games.
The new CBA, if confirmed, could also bring an interesting wrinkle to the NBA calendar with the potential addition of an in-season tournament. According to ESPN, the tournament would feature pool-play games in November, with eight teams advancing to a single-elimination tournament in December. Then, the Final Four would be played at a neutral site. All of those games would be counted into the regular-season standings, but the championship game would not, as effectively an 83rd game. According to The Athletic, each player of the winning team of the tournament would get $500,000 in prize money.
Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo – the brother of Giannis – was suspended one game without pay after he headbutted Blake Griffin during a stoppage in play late in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ 140-99 blowout victory in Milwaukee on Thursday. Antetokounmpo was issued a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected from the game.
The dust-up inspired a laugh from Griffin and then a humorous moment on the Celtics bench, where Griffin pretended to put on Brown’s mask for protection.
“I thought Blake handled it well,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. “That’s not something we went over in training camp, but I thought Blake did the best he could, thought he handled it really well, just kind of laughing it off, separating himself from it and just kind of being the bigger person.”
Mazzulla was asked if he had ever seen a headbutt like that on the court during a game.
“I may have done that a time or two to somebody,” Mazzulla said, possibly joking.