Boston Celtics Ink Jayson Tatum to a Historic Contract

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics

Getty Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics

The big story for the Celtics in this offseason has been the fact that they simply did not want to pay a massive amount of money to forward Gordon Hayward, who left Boston for Charlotte on a four-year, $120 million deal.  But the bigger story is that the Celtics have a guy on hand who is worthy of a record contract—Jayson Tatum, who agreed to an extension on his rookie deal that will be worth at least $163 million and could reach nearly $200 million.

Tatum, after four years in the NBA, was eligible for an extension and the Celtics did not balk at giving him the maximum allowed under NBA rules. He earned a spot on the All-NBA third team this year, and if he matches that feat next year, he will get the so-called designated rookie contract exception that allows him to sign a deal starting at 30% of the salary cap rather than 25%.

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Either way, it will be the richest overall contract signed in Celtics history and if Tatum does wind up with the designated exception, he will land the biggest rookie contract extension in league history.

Jayson Tatum Earned an All-Star Berth

Tatum has certainly earned the reward. He was the Celtics’ top pick in 2017, when the team traded down from No. 1 to No. 3 to choose him. The Sixers, who owned the first pick, chose Markelle Fultz. Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz got much the same deal as Tatum, but will have a harder time qualifying for the designated rookie exception.

Bam Adebayo is likely the only other player from that draft who will get a maximum contract, though there has been talk that the Heat will ask him to wait until next offseason to sign it.

In his third season, Tatum averaged a career-high 23.4 points with 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists, all career highs. He shot 45.0% from the field and 40.3% from the 3-point line, all while improving drastically as a defender. He was an All-Star for the first time and earned a spot on the All-NBA third team. He is only 22 and had a true breakout season.

Jayson Tatum Should be a Celtic for At Least Five More Years

Tatum is still on his rookie contract and will remain under that deal for next season. It paid him $7.8 million this year and will give him $9.9 million next year. This deal is an extension, not a new contract. Tatum has an option on the fifth year of the deal, but the contract ensures he will be with the Celtics–barring a trade–for six more seasons.

Obviously, getting Tatum locked up was a priority for the Celtics, who will ensure that their young star is happy and secure in Boston. He could even flourish more now that Hayward is in Charlotte. Hayward took 13.5 shots per game for the Celtics last season–expect a fair number of those to go to Tatum next year.

For Celtics president Danny Ainge, the Tatum signing is well-timed because it deflects from criticism about the loss of Hayward with nothing in return.

Ainge said in his virtual meeting with reporters last month, “Jayson knows how much we like him. We have a good relationship. Jayson likes it here, so I’m confident that we’ll be able to work something out this [offseason].”

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