Celtics

For Jayson Tatum, next Celtics contract wasn't among concerns entering NBA bubble

For Jayson Tatum, next Celtics contract wasn't among concerns entering NBA bubble

Several factors contributed to Jayson Tatum’s decision to play with the Boston Celtics during the NBA’s restart to the season. 

Among them? 

His desire to squash rumors that he was leery about being part of the league’s re-start amid concerns that it would impact his next contract which he’s eligible to sign at the end of this season. 

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Tatum, who spoke to the media via conference call on Tuesday, repeatedly said his biggest concern about joining his teammates in Orlando was the amount of time he would be away from his two-year-old son Deuce

“For me, just being away from my son for two or three months,” Tatum said. “That’s what’s really bothering me, knowing that he's only 2 and a half. Especially that young, their growth, they change every week. Just knowing I’m going to miss out on that … it’s been tough.”

But the 22-year-old acknowledged that the report that he was not going to play out of concern for his next contract, became something that weighed in his decision to be with the team in Orlando. 

“I knew if I didn’t play with people not hearing why I wasn’t going to play, they would assume that I didn’t want to play because I didn’t want to risk losing out on that contract,” Tatum said. 

But Tatum shot that theory down on Tuesday. 

“That would be insensitive, especially during this time with so many people filed for unemployment, for me to be worried about 'X' amount of dollars,” Tatum said. “That didn’t have anything to do with whether I would play or not. For me, my main concern was being away from my son. That was what was most important to me, if I was or wasn’t going to play.”

As for the NBA taking steps towards establishing insurance for players such as Tatum if they were to be injured during the league’s re-start, that too was a non-factor in his decision. 

“I guess without trying to get into too much detail, the agreement they came to didn’t really affect in a good or bad way, my decision,” he said.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Can Tatum be a title team's best player? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

While Tatum’s motivation to return to play may very well be centered around his family, there’s no mistaking that the potential for its impact on his next contract is very real. 

Prior to the NBA being put on pause March 12, the day after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, Tatum was one of the league’s best players. 

After being named to his first All-Star team in February, Tatum put together a string of performances that put him in elite company even for a franchise as storied as the Boston Celtics.

Those strong performances, coupled with the team’s success, put Tatum in the conversation to be named to one of the All-NBA teams, which would then make him eligible for the “Derrick Rose” extension which means he could garner a salary equal to 30 percent of the NBA salary cap versus 25 percent currently. 

Regardless, Tatum is in for a significant windfall financially — whether he decided to return to playing with his teammates in Orlando or not. 

Will Celtics land Grizzlies' 2020 first-round draft pick? Scenarios explained

Will Celtics land Grizzlies' 2020 first-round draft pick? Scenarios explained

Do the Boston Celtics really want to beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night?

Here's why that's a question worth asking: The Celtics own the rights to the Grizzlies' first-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, unless Memphis' pick lands in the top six. If the Grizzlies earn a top-six pick, they'll send an unprotected 2021 first-round pick to Boston instead.

Basically, whether the Celtics land Memphis' pick in 2020 comes down to whether the Grizzlies make the playoffs.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Grizzlies, which begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

IF MEMPHIS MAKES THE PLAYOFFS
It doesn't enter the draft lottery, guaranteeing its picks is outside the top 14. Boston gets the Grizzlies' 2020 pick.

IF MEMPHIS MISSES THE PLAYOFFS
... It's a little more complicated.

Here are the current Western Conference standings, with the Grizzlies clinging on to the final playoff spot with three games remaining.

8. Memphis Grizzlies (33-38)
9. Portland Trail Blazers (33-39) 0.5 games back
10. San Antonio Spurs (31-38) 1 GB
11. Phoenix Suns (31-39) 1.5 GB

The final Western Conference playoff spot is decided by a play-in series between the No. 8 and No. 9 seed, and Memphis is among four teams still in contention for that spot.

If the Grizzlies finish eighth or ninth and lose the play-in series, they'll enter the draft lottery at No. 14 and have a 2.4 percent chance of moving up to a top-five pick, which would delay the pick going to Boston until 2021.

If they miss the play-in game and finish as the No. 10 seed, their odds of landing a top-five pick increase to 5.7 percent. And if they tank all the way to No. 11, those odds bump to 6.1 percent.

Put another way: The Celtics, at worst, have a 93.9 percent chance of getting Memphis' draft pick this year.

In all likelihood, then, Boston will have three first-round selections in the 2020 NBA Draft:

-- Grizzlies' pick (top-6 protected)
-- Celtics' own pick
-- Milwaukee Bucks' pick (top-7 protected)

Earning the Grizzlies' pick this year probably is the best-case scenario for the Celtics. Ja Morant leads a talented young Memphis squad that should be better in 2020-21, which would mean a worse pick for the C's in the 2021 draft.

So, back to the original question: Do the Celtics really want to beat the Grizzlies? In short, yes: It's all but guaranteed the C's get Memphis' pick this year, so the lower the Grizzlies are in the standings, the better for Boston.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Banner 18 in the bubble? Celtics' title chances getting stronger | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Celtics Talk Podcast: Jaylen Brown continues to be MVP of the bubble for C's

Celtics Talk Podcast: Jaylen Brown continues to be MVP of the bubble for C's

Jaylen Brown has improved every facet of his game in Year 4 of his promising NBA career.

The Boston Celtics forward is averaging career highs in every major statistical category, and he's done a stellar job playing the Robin to Jayson Tatum's Batman throughout the 2019-20 season.

So far in the Orlando bubble, though, it's Brown who has taken over as Boston's Most Valuable Player.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Grizzlies, which begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Brown has been on fire through six games in the bubble, averaging 21.7 points, 7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 assists through six games. On a brand new edition of the Celtics Talk Podcast, A. Sherrod Blakely emphatically explains to Kyle Draper why Brown is indisputably Boston's best player at this point in time.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Banner 18 in the bubble? Celtics' title chances getting stronger as postseason nears | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"In this moment, right now. Jaylen Brown is the best two-way player on this team right now. Right this minute," said Blakely. "And I'll go a step further, Jaylen Brown is the best player on this team period right now based on what he's doing in the bubble. Now, when we get to the playoffs do I expect him to be their best player? No. I expect him to be in the top three. I expect Tatum or Kemba to elevate and be that guy."

Blakely also praised Brown for continuing to be a leader off the court while dominating on it. After Sunday's overtime win vs. the Orlando Magic, the 23-year-old spoke at length about the issues of police brutality and mental health.

"Jaylen Brown is killing it, man. I mean he has been just an absolute beast," Blakely said. "And the thing that I love about Jaylen is that not only is he being a beast on the court and helping his team win, but all the social issues that he was championing before he got in the bubble that he said he would continue to have those conversations and use his platform to elevate those discussions, he's kept his word along those lines."

Also discussed on the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast: How will Stevens handle playoff rotation? Has Robert Williams earned playing time over Enes Kanter? Who is the Celtics' ideal first-round opponent? And is Gordon Hayward the C's X-factor for the playoffs?

Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast on your favorite podcast app or watch it on YouTube below.