Jaylen Brown’s supermax proves Bulls got a steal with Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine, Jaylen Brown, Chicago Bullsv (Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)
Zach LaVine, Jaylen Brown, Chicago Bullsv (Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports) /

Entering this offseason already over the salary cap, nobody expected the Chicago Bulls to pull the trigger on any enormous signings this summer. That doesn’t mean they’re entirely unaffected by what happens in free agency, as the moves made by other teams could drastically impact the Bulls’ odds next season.

One signing in particular, I believe is worth noting. In a deal that could have long-term ramifications for the entire league, Jaylen Brown‘s record-breaking supermax extension with the Boston Celtics has really helped shed a light on what players are worth in the modern NBA.

As the largest deal ever signed in league history, ESPN’s Marc Spears got the jump on this big scoop. For a player who’s a borderline top-25 talent in the NBA, this deal truly displays how the landscape of the league’s negotiations changes under the new collective bargaining agreement.

Here’s how Brown’s contract breaks down, now that he’s on contract with the Celtics all the way through 2029.

  • 2023-24: $31,830,357 (23.4% of cap space)
  • 2024-25: $52,368,085 (36.9%)
  • 2025-26: $56,557,532 (36.2%)
  • 2026-27: $ 60,746,979 (35.4%)
  • 2027-28: $64,936,425 (34.4%)
  • 2028-29: $69,125,872 (33.3%)

Following news of Jaylen Brown’s $300 million supermax extension, the Bulls have to feel even better about Zach LaVine’s contract.

Considering the situation the Celtics are in as perennial title contenders, it’s difficult to say that this was a bad decision on their behalf. If they win even just one championship over this span, I doubt anyone will call this an overpay.

What I find most interesting, however, is what this means for future contracts down the road. Teams that are in win-now mode are almost certainly going to pay a premium to retain their own talent moving forward. It’s almost ironic then, that the max extension Zach LaVine recently signed and had fans divided over, will almost certainly be a good deal for the Bulls very soon.

If we’re being honest with ourselves here, there isn’t that large of a discrepancy between LaVine and Brown as players, although the market has decided Jaylen is inherently more valuable to Boston than Zach is to Chicago. Both players earned two All-Star selections in the last three seasons, and LaVine is only a year and a half older than Brown. By all accounts, they should be comparable talents, especially looking at their statistical production over this three-year span.

  • LaVine: 202 Games, 25.4 PTS, 4.7 REB, 4.5 AST, 61.5 TS%, 2.7 BPM, 8.4 VoRP
  • Brown: 191 Games, 25 PTS, 6.3 REB, 3.4 AST, 58 TS%, 1.9 BPM, 6.5 VoRP

LaVine has proven to be a far more efficient and dynamic offensive threat, while also shouldering the pressure of being the top offensive option for his team rather than the sidekick to a top 10 player in the league. Although Brown is a better defender, he’s actually trended downward on that side of the court in recent years while Zach has made improvements to close the gap.

Here’s how LaVine’s contract stacks up in comparison.

  • 2023-24: $40,064,220 (30%)
  • 2024-25: $43,031,940 (29.45%)
  • 2025-26: $45,999,660 (30.3%)
  • 2026-27: $48,967,380 (28.5%) – player option

As you can see, Zach expends a much smaller portion of Chicago’s cap room while also arguably being a better player in a vacuum, despite a lack of team success. LaVine will also be 32 years old by the time this contract expires, meaning he’s not likely to receive another max extension unless he massively outperforms his current max. Either way, the Bulls massively benefit in both of these scenarios.

Although Zach’s max extension was a hot topic for debate when it was initially signed, Brown’s supermax (and the deals we’ll inevitably see signed over the next few years) prove the Bulls got a great deal here with their star guard.

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