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Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals four times in their six years playing together. They came two wins away from a title.

What makes the duo's success even more impressive is the latter's just entering his prime at 26 years old; the former, 25, isn't even there yet.

Before the Eastern Conference Finals, when asked about what the tandem's already accomplished, Brown expressed the following to Inside The Celtics.

"It's a blessing. To be in this position is extremely hard. It takes a lot of sacrifice. It takes a lot of intensity, emotion, and a lot of hard work. And we're both extremely grateful to be in this position, and we're looking forward to winning some more games and continuing this process. So, all I can say is praise to the Most High."


But after their attempt at history, trying to become the first NBA team to erase a 3-0 deficit, and return to the Finals, ended with a crushing 103-84 loss to the Heat on their home floor, it's time for Brown and the organization to figure out whether they have a future together.

The two-time All-Star may want to go somewhere he's the unquestioned top option and has the ball in his hands at the end of the game.

And while Boston Magazine named Brown one of the most influential Bostonians for his work on civil rights and racial equity, the architect of the 7uice Foundation, dedicated to fighting systemic racism, has also voiced frustration about the lack of fluidity when buying a home and starting a business in the city he stars in.

Even if Brown, who's always been accepting of his role alongside Tatum, and in 2020 stated, "I'm a Bostonian now," wants to remain in the only NBA home he's known, the Celtics have a difficult choice to make.


By making the All-NBA Second Team, the Georgia Native qualified for a five-year, $295 million veteran supermax extension. Only Boston can offer that. Even if he's traded, his new team could not.

If the Celtics offer Brown that contract, and he accepts it, he and Tatum will take up about 50 percent of the salary cap in 2023-24.

With the latter earning All-NBA honors for the second-straight year, again making the First Team, he's eligible for a five-year, $318 million supermax extension next summer. Signing Brown and Tatum to those deals would take up roughly 60 percent of Boston's salary cap in 2024-25.

That's steep but reasonable and gives the Celtics two more years to see what their star tandem can accomplish together. It would lead to some rotation players departing and increase the importance of finding impactful additions on team-friendly contracts.

The more painful decisions about who they must move on from would come after the 2024-25 campaign. But it was worth it if Boston's won a championship by then. Doing so would also spark optimism about building around Tatum and Brown under the harsher restrictions of the new collective bargaining agreement.


While the Celtics might view their ability to manage their cap sheet the next two years and aspirations for Banner 18 as compelling enough incentives to make negotiations simple and offer Brown $295 million, which is a 35 percent max contract, since no other team can offer him more than a 30 percent max, perhaps they aim to find a middle ground.

What's clear to the organization is where Tatum stands on continuing his partnership with Brown.

"It's extremely important," expressed the St. Louis native after Boston's Game 7 loss. "He's one of the best players in this league. (He) plays both ends of the ball, and (he's) still relatively young. And he's accomplished a lot so far in his career, so I think it's extremely important."

As for Brown, he was less committal.

"I expected to win today and move on," he said post-game. "And that's what my focus was on, and that's what my focus has been on. We failed, I failed, and it's hard to think about anything else right now, to be honest. We'll cross that bridge when we get there."

When asked what he and Tatum must do to capitalize on their championship window, if it didn't close Sunday night at TD Garden, Brown responded, "You take it on the chin. You learn from it. As hard as this one is to swallow, you get better. Tough one. Tough one for me. Tough one for our team. Tough one for our organization. Extremely bad timing. And you learn.

"This is a part of the journey; this is not the end. We've got a lot better to get. A lot of better basketball to play, and you've just got to look at it like that. But tough night."

And after a long pause, Brown said of his thought process regarding his future with the Celtics and what happens this summer, "I don't even really know how to answer that question right now, to be honest. My thought process is (to) take it one day at a time, focus on getting better, focus on (what) the future holds, and see where we are from there, I guess. I don't really know how to answer that."

There's a lot to sort out on both sides, but the safest bet is Brown and Boston's best chance of capturing the Larry O'Brien Trophy is to stick together.

Given what he and Tatum have accomplished individually and the team success they've led the Celtics to before their primes, it's worth seeing how high they can climb once they get there, even with the prohibitive nature of the NBA's new CBA.

Further Reading

Celtics Discuss Trying to Overcome Jayson Tatum's Ankle Injury in Game 7 Loss to Heat: 'A Shell of Myself'

Here's What Stood Out in Game 7 Loss to Heat: Celtics Come Up Small, Enter Offseason of Uncertainty

Jaylen Brown Reacts to Historic Run Against Miami Heat in Eastern Conference Finals

Derrick White Discusses Season-Saving Buzzer Beater: 'Now It's on to Game 7'

Here's What Stood Out in Game 6 Win vs. Heat: Derrick White Saves Celtics Season as March Toward History Continues

The Celtics Could've Folded and Flamed Out, Instead, They're Inching Closer to History: 'We're Not Going Down Like This'

Film Room: Grant Williams' Value on Full Display in Celtics' Game 4 Win vs. Heat

Celtics Stars Speak on Team Sticking Together Down 3-0: 'We Didn't Want That to Define Us'

Celtics Discuss Returning to Identity Best Suiting Them in Game 4 Win: 'We're a Team That Believes in Us No Matter What'

Jaylen Brown Responds to Rumors of Disconnect in Celtics Locker Room