Celtics Insider

Blakely: All-NBA nod means C's must pay up to keep Tatum

Celtics Insider
Jayson Tatum

When it comes time for the Celtics knock out an extension for Jayson Tatum, Boston knows it will have to pay him handsomely. 

Well, Tatum's asking price just got more expensive -- by a lot.

The NBA released its All-NBA teams Wednesday, with Tatum being named to the league’s third team

That means the 6-foot-9 All-Star is now eligible for a “Super Max” extension, also known as the Derrick Rose Rule.

Blakely: When will C's learn after squandering another playoff game late?

Being an All-NBA selection now means the third-year forward can sign a five-year extension that could pay him up to 30 percent of the salary cap, as opposed to a traditional “max salary” slot that would pay him as much as 25 percent. 

A new deal for Tatum would not kick in until the 2021-2022 season, so there’s some uncertainty as to how the global pandemic and the NBA’s lost games will impact what the cap looks like by then -- and for Tatum purposes, how much of the salary cap he's eligible to be paid. 

But let’s assume the league has a strong bounce-back year and the salary cap for the 2021-2022 season meets the league’s pre-pandemic projection of $125 million. 

If that's the case, the first year of Tatum’s deal would be worth $37.5 million with a five-year package worth $217.5 million. 

Under such a deal, the final year for Tatum, who would be 27 years old at that time, would be worth $49.5 million.


While some Celtics fans might see those numbers and immediately feel a "sticker shock," there are a few things you have to keep in mind. 

For starters, the 22-year-old Tatum has already established himself as the best player on a really talented Celtics team and is one of the league’s brightest young stars. 

He was the third overall pick in 2017 NBA Draft, but he’s the only player from that draft class who has done enough to warrant an All-NBA selection and become eligible for the super-max deal.

Reporter's Notebook: Deuce Tatum among few bright spots from Game 1

As this most recent season rolled along, Tatum grew into an even more dynamic two-way talent. 

And in the playoffs, Tatum continues to be Boston’s go-to guy most nights while steadily producing numbers that few if any Celtics have ever done at such an early stage in their careers. 

Even before Tatum's All-NBA nod, the Celtics were well aware that this scenario was possible and that they would probably have to pony up significantly more money in order to lock up their franchise cornerstone going forward. 

Tatum’s base salary in 2021-2022 would be $37.5 million, joining Kemba Walker ($36.1 million) and Jaylen Brown ($24.8 million) as the highest-paid Celtics whose combined salaries would account for a significant chunk of the team’s overall salary cap regardless of where that number fell. 

But Celtics ownership has maintained for years they have no issues paying premium dollar for a team that’s legitimately competing for a title. 

That sentiment will be put to the test with Tatum in line for what would be the largest contract in franchise history.