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NBA history was made off the court this week.

This week, our panel of NBA reporters — Ric Bucher, Melissa Rohlin and Yaron Weitzman — takes a look at the largest contract ever and what it means for Boston, and also gives its take on the USA’s chances in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

1. Jaylen Brown just signed the largest contract in NBA history. Your immediate reaction was …

Weitzman: These numbers seem larger, but it’s just the start. It’s also important to point out that the dollars on a max contract aren’t pulled from thin air; a supermax — which Brown signed — is 35% of the cap, and the cap is based off total “basketball related income” brought in. In other words, Brown’s only getting this money because the league is earning it. It’s not like the teams and players are making up dollar amounts. As revenues continue to rise — the league will be signing a new, more lucrative TV deal at some point within the next two years — these contract numbers are only going to get greater.

Bucher: Good for Jaylen. Secondary reaction: The Celtics are about to have $650 million tied up in two players with Jayson Tatum up next. What I don’t take any of this to mean is that the Celtics are forever wed to Brown and Tatum as their nucleus. They’re retaining assets and having them locked into long-term deals makes them more attractive on the trade market, if it comes to that.

Rohlin: We’re going to see more and more eye-popping numbers in the ensuing years. Glad Brown was able to capitalize on this. He averaged career-highs in points (26.6) and field goal percentage (49%) last season, and has helped the Celtics reach the playoffs in each of his seven seasons with the team, including an NBA Finals appearance in 2022. Sure, it’s a bit stunning that Brown’s deal is larger than the $276 million contract extension two-time MVP and reigning NBA champion Nikola Jokic signed with the Denver Nuggets, but it’s a reflection of the league’s increased cap and revenue.

2. Was retaining Brown the correct move for the Celtics? Will their new trio of Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis make them the favorite in the East coming into next season?

Weitzman: For the Celtics, this was a no-brainer. They now have a 26-year-old two-time All-Star, at a premium position, locked up for the next five years. And anyway, even if they have questions about Brown’s fit alongside Tatum (and I don’t think they do, nor should they), it’s easier to deal a guy when he’s on a long term contract.

Bucher: Sure, why not? They’ve been to the conference finals two years running and the Finals once. We can debate all we want if all the players receiving max salaries are really max-salary type players. On one hand, Brown and Tatum have had as much success as any duo in the league in recent years. On the other hand, they’ve been blessed with one of the most talented supporting casts in the league. Porzingis gives them something they didn’t have: a mobile, 3-point shooting big man. But, he doesn’t solve their need for a floor general and playmaker. I’m still going to lean Milwaukee or Miami if they get Damian Lillard. 

Rohlin: Brown and Tatum are one of the best duos in the NBA. Locking Brown into this kind of contract was smart for the Celtics, who now have a promise of consistency, or a great bargaining chip, depending on how they want to play their cards down the line.

3. Countries have begun to reveal their rosters for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup next month. Having seen their roster, do you believe the Americans are the favorites?

Weitzman: You have to put Team USA as the favorite, but Canada, led by Jamal Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, looks to be loaded.

Bucher: Slight favorites, at best. They made some shrewd selections, particularly with the guards, but the big men are young and not all that reliable scoring beyond the paint. Canada, Germany and France have their share of proven NBA players and the Eastern European teams all have veteran bigs who know the international game far better than Jaren Jackson Jr. and Walker Kessler. Don’t be surprised if Team USA struggles to win or finishes with something less than gold.

Rohlin: They should win gold, but no, they’re not overwhelming favorites. There’s so much strong international talent. And while Team USA’s roster comparatively looks good, they always run the risk of taking other squads for granted. That being said, Team USA has more NBA players than any other squad. So, if they don’t win gold, it will be a letdown. 

4. Wild card: What will the addition of Bol Bol mean for a Suns lineup/roster that now includes Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton? Is it a needle-moving addition?

Weitzman: Did Tim Hardaway Sr. write this question?

I guess Bol is a nice additional lotto ticket for the Suns, but if we’re talking about him come playoff time, I’d be stunned.

Bucher: What will it mean? Nothing, according to Gilbert Arenas, who recently suggested Bol’s attitude has sabotaged his talent. Everything, according to Tim Sr., who came into the league with Bol’s late father as a teammate. Bol is worth a flier at $2 million for one year, but Tim and anyone else getting all breathless about this pick-up by the Suns is either desperate to believe Phoenix can put together a quality bench out of cast-offs, or you saw some highlights of Bol from this past season and extrapolated that he’s a Sudanese Chet Holmgren. But if Bol was all that, why would a 34-win team that had a chance to observe him for an entire season let him go? Why would he not attract something better than Phoenix’s one-year, $2.17 million deal? This isn’t a vet latching onto a team he sees as a ticket to a ring; it’s a 23-year-old, whose stats were better in losses than wins, joining his third team for his fifth season. I don’t know if Tim mentioned it, but he played his rookie year in the NBA with Bol’s late father, Manute, who was beloved by all. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Tim’s hyperbole might’ve been spiked by a few fond remembrances.

Rohlin: He’s too inconsistent to move the needle. He has shown flashes of potential, but he also has disappearing acts. He gives the Suns size and length, most likely off the bench. And if he improves on defense, he could be a strong addition. The Suns best hope is that he learns from vets like Durant about how to be a true professional and develops into a legitimate piece. But whether that happens is a giant question mark.

Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has written two books, “Rebound,” on NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with young onset Parkinson’s, and “Yao: A Life In Two Worlds.” He also has a daily podcast, “On The Ball with Ric Bucher.” Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.

Yaron Weitzman is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He is the author of “Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports.” Follow him on Twitter @YaronWeitzman.


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