The Celtics have agreed to a five-year, maximum-salary contract extension with forward Jayson Tatum, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The deal will go into effect for the 2021/22 season, once Tatum’s rookie contract expires. Ryan McDonough of Radio.com tweets that the deal includes a fifth-year player option for the 2025/26 season.
Tatum, 22, blossomed into an All-Star during his third season in Boston. He posted career-high averages of 23.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 0.9 BPG across 66 games for the Celtics during the regular season. Tatum also logged impressive shooting splits of .45/.403/.812.
Along with his fellow 2020 Boston All-Star, point guard Kemba Walker, and ascendant young forward Jaylen Brown, Tatum led the Celtics to their second Eastern Conference Finals appearance of his young tenure during the 2019/20 season.
As Bobby Marks of ESPN details (Twitter link), Tatum’s starting salary will be worth at least 25% of the 2021/22 salary cap. If he makes an All-NBA team again in 2021, his deal will start at 30% of next year’s cap. Based on a 3% cap increase, Tatum’s first-year salary will range from about $28.1MM to $33.7MM.
Marks notes in a separate tweet that, if Tatum and/or his fellow recently-extended young Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell, qualifies for the full 30% extension by making any of the three All-NBA teams next season, either player would earn the biggest rookie extension in NBA history. Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons holds the current record at $177.2MM.
Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox could also earn the 30% max on his new deal, though he’ll have to earn All-NBA First Team honors to do so, per the terms of his own extension. Among this year’s players eligible for rookie contract extensions, Tatum, Mitchell and Fox are the only three who have agreed to terms so far.
With Brown’s own extension (for $103MM in guaranteed money plus an additional $12MM in possible incentives) locked in through the 2023/24 season, getting off the contract of oft-injured veteran forward Gordon Hayward a year early has helped streamline Boston’s books for the immediate future, while securing their young core. Hayward opted out of the final year of his deal with Boston to sign a four-year, $120MM contract with the Hornets yesterday.
In terms of the team’s immediate roster-building, Boston will be able avoid the luxury tax this season thanks to Hayward’s departure. The club can still upgrade its roster using its $3.6MM biannual exception, along with trade exceptions acquired through the moves of Vincent Poirier and Enes Kanter.
Brown, Walker, and Tatum will all be under contract together for the next two seasons. Walker has a $37.7MM player option for 2022/23, his age-33 season. Defensive stalwart Marcus Smart has the team’s next-biggest contract, and is owed $27.8MM through the 2021/22 season.
Yesterday, the Celtics added center Tristan Thompson, signed into the club’s full mid-level exception. He will earn $19MM through 2021/22. Boston also fully guaranteed the contracts of incumbent starting center Daniel Theis and reserve forward Semi Ojeleye. Theis may be in line for a raise when he enters unrestricted free agency in 2021.
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