Atlanta Hawks ‘closely monitoring’ $106M star’s situation: Report

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks are on the shortlist of teams considered potential trade destinations for Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown.

“One reason the Hawks are trying to unload [John] Collins is to get that cap space and be in position to add someone, another star, with Trae,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney. “It is not easy to get free agents to Atlanta but Jaylen Brown would be different—they want to be in position, at least, to make a move if he wants to be there. I think there is no question they are watching the situation with him. Closely.”

Things between Brown and the Celtics have been in question for some time with the two-time All-Star’s name being mentioned in multiple high-profile trade rumors in recent years including for Anthony Davis before he was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers by the New Orleans Pelicans and Kevin Durant before he was traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Phoenix Suns.

Brown was recently asked whether or not he wanted to be in Boston long-term.

“I don’t know,” he told Logan Murdock of The Ringer leaving the door open for a potential exit when his contract expires in 2025. “As long as I’m needed. It’s not up to me,” he says. “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.”

Brown is a Georgia native who, at 26, is just entering his prime years while already teasing cornerstone potential.

He is putting up career-highs with 26.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game adding 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals to highlight his two-way impact. With .492/.344/.774 shooting splits this season, his overall efficiency is up but his three-point marks have fallen for the second straight season.

The 6-foot-6 swingman is still sure to be a highly sought-after commodity on the open market.

There is one big financial domino that could weigh nearly as heavily as Brown’s desire to be needed, says Keith Smith of Spotrac.

Jaylen Brown, Atlanta Hawks could be on collision course for 2024

“Under the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement…the Celtics can offer him no more than $36.9 million as the starting salary of an extension if he doesn’t make an All-NBA team,” explains Bryan Toporek of Forbes. “The four-year total comes out to nearly $165.2 million, which is likely tens of millions less than he could make as a free agent in 2024.”

That number is $244 across five years if he re-signs in Boston as a free agent or over $181 million if he bails for somewhere else (say, Atlanta).

The summer of 2024 is going to be an interesting one for the Hawks.

Not only will they have to deal with restricted free agency for 2023 trade deadline acquisition Saddiq Bey and 2020 top-10 pick Onyeka Okongwu, but they also have to pay Dejounte Murray whom they handed over a handful of draft capital for this past summer.

On top of that, they will be one year into De’Andre Hunter’s four-year, $90-million pact as well as that of Bogdan Bogdanovic worth over $49 million across three more seasons at that point.

Will they finally move on from John Collins? Will they still be building around Trae Young?

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There are far more questions about this entire situation than there are answers at this point.

Deveney reports there’s some sense that this could all be a push to ensure that he gets treated (or rather compensated) appropriately.

“Jaylen is a smart man, he kind of sees through some of the BS of the league,” one NBA executive told Heavy Sports. “It would be of no advantage to him to come out and say, ‘Hell yeah, I want to stay in Boston and I’ll sign whatever they give me.’ That might be the popular answer, but he is not going to give the popular answer. Things change fast in the NBA, and who knows where they might be in two years?”

There should be a new CBA in place by that point which would open up new financial possibilities that could benefit the Celtics and Brown.

“Brown could also decide to bet on himself rather than lock in an extension,” notes Toporek. “If he makes an All-NBA team next season, he’ll be eligible to sign a five-year supermax contract with the Celtics in free agency starting at 35% of the salary cap. If the 2024-25 cap lands at $140.7 million, Brown would be eligible for a five-year, $285.6 million (!) supermax.”

That, to Smith’s point, would certainly be a lot of money to have to turn down.

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This would not mean that Brown would finish his career with the Celtics for certain. But it would likely mean a return to Boston for the ensuing season and his being off the market in a trade for a least the first couple of years of that deal.