Jaylen Brown has spent his entire career with the Boston Celtics, but that streak has been threatened several times. Brown has been involved in trade discussions several times throughout his career, the most notable of which came this offseason when Brown was reportedly discussed in a possible deal for Kevin Durant. Eventually, though, Brown will be in control of his own destiny. He can become a free agent in the summer of 2024, and in a profile by The Ringer's Logan Murdoch, he didn't sound all that committed to a future in Boston.
"I don't know. As long as I'm needed. It's not up to me," Brown said. "We'll see how they feel about me over time and I feel about them over time. Hopefully, whatever it is, it makes sense. But I will stay where I'm wanted. I will stay where I'm needed and treated correct."
For the time being, it isn't up to Brown. However, based on the current rules, it almost certainly will be soon. Brown signed a contract extension in 2019 that turned out to be well below market-value, and as a result, he probably isn't going to be able to extend at a fair price this offseason. In most cases, players can receive a raise of only 20 percent in the first season of an extension. Brown is worth the max. If he earns All-NBA honors this season he'll be able to get it—and then some—but otherwise? He's destined for 2024 free agency, where he'll be able to control his fate.
What he decides then is unknowable. Boston could be a two-time defending champion by then. It's also possible that a new collective bargaining agreement relaxes the league's current extension rules and makes it easier for Boston to pay Brown ahead of time. But for the moment, Brown seems open to exploring his options, and his interview with Murdoch suggested that he wasn't thrilled about the Durant talks. Eventually, team president Brad Stevens told him in a three-way call with Jayson Tatum that he would not be traded.
"Once we all got together and kind of talked it through, we all left on the same page," Brown said. "But the actions that was taking place during that time, it just didn't seem like that was the direction that the organization was going in. I don't know. It was hard to tell, at least."
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Brown tweeted "Smh" when the Durant rumors first surfaced last July. Earlier in March, he expressed some frustration with Celtics fans in an interview with The New York Times. "I have, but I pretty much block it all out," Brown said. "It's not the whole Celtic fan base, but it is a part of the fan base that exists within the Celtic nation that is problematic. If you have a bad game, they tie it to your personal character.
"I definitely think there's a group or an amount within the Celtic nation that is extremely toxic and does not want to see athletes use their platform, or they just want you to play basketball and entertain and go home. And that's a problem to me."
For now, the Celtics are right in the thick of the championship race. They came just two wins shy of the title last season. But the noise surrounding Brown's future is only going to louder until there is a resolution. Boston would certainly like to keep Brown for the long haul. It will be up to him to decide whether or not that is where he wants to be.