In the least surprising report related to an NBA player, the Boston Celtics are expected to offer Jayson Tatum a max contract extension. Many Celtics fans expect that Tatum and Jaylen Brown are two important pieces for a championship team, so it’s difficult to put a price tag on two talents like them. Unfortunately for Boston, the question is simple; do they have the financial means to sign Mr. Tatum?
With where we are in the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some concerns about the salary cap for the 2020-21 season. It is expected to be lower than $109 Million, which was this season’s cap. Tatum still has $9 Million remaining on his rookie deal which ends at the end of next season, but the Celtics can sign him to the max whenever the 2019-20 season ends. Excluding what Tatum will make, the Celtics starting lineup for next season, which is expected to consist of Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Enes Kanter, will have a base salary of $96,455,464.
I believe that Tatum should be and will be signed to a max contract. An option for the All Star is to sign a one-year deal with a player option worth more money than what he’s receiving now, and wait until the league can financially get back to some level of normalcy to break the bank.
The NBA has more hiding spots for salary hits than a billion-dollar company, so the Celtics may be able to make it work. More than anything else, these reports leaking out show that the Celtics believe Tatum is a key piece to their future. Before the season took a break, the former Duke Blue Devil was averaging 23.6 ppg and 7.1 rpg, and maybe more importantly an average of 34.5 minutes/game. All three are career highs, granted in his third season. The last 10 games have shown that maybe Jayson has started to mold himself into what many are expecting.
Financially the Celtics could be facing some big questions, and one of them may be Gordon Hayward. The 29-year-old forward will be entering the final season of his 4 yr/max deal, and will make just over $34 Million. Would the Celtics think about trading Hayward, or asking him to possibly restructure? Most likely not, but these are the questions that may have to be answered to sign a player like Tatum to a max deal.
The 21 year old deserves a max contract, especially with what many are comparing his career future to. FiveThirtyEight has compared Tatum to players like KG, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony. Understandably, some may be hesitant seeing comparisons between Tatum and those three players, who didn’t have much success on their own and needed help. With players like Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and a coach like Brad Stevens to help Tatum the Celtics could have some decent success in the future.
Teams in the Eastern Conference have two big superstar caliber players at the forefront. The Bucks have Giannis and Khris Middleton, the Sixers have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and the Nets will have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Celtics answer to those teams are Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. A positive about having players like those two is they can play the first four spots on the floor, while Philly, Brooklyn and Milwaukee have a superstar talent that are handtied to a certain spot.
There was talk about Jayson Tatum not wanting to come to Boston, but would rather go to Phoenix. Thankfully for green teamers things have worked out so far, and once pen hits paper it will be a long-term partnership between the C’s and Tatum.