Celtics

NBA Rumors: Celtics 'most likely' will offer Jayson Tatum max contract after season

NBA Rumors: Celtics 'most likely' will offer Jayson Tatum max contract after season

Just before the 2019-20 NBA season was suspended due to the coronavirus, Jayson Tatum was turning into a superstar before our very eyes. Now, it appears the Boston Celtics are ready to pay him like one.

Saturday on SportsCenter, ESPN's Brian Windhorst said the C's "most likely" will offer the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft a max contract this offseason.

"If Jayson Tatum is the superstar that they envisioned when they began this whole rebuilding process when they traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for all of those draft picks hoping to land a player like this, we could see 'Glory Days' for the Celtics again," Windhorst said, as transcribed by Bleacher Report.

"But it's very much up in the air, and I'm gonna tell ya, they're gonna have to pay him like it because after this season ends, he is going to get most likely a max contract. They're going to bet that he becomes that player."

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The Celtics recently have signed both Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown to four-year contract extensions, so signing Tatum to a max deal and locking up their core for the foreseeable future seems like a no-brainer. One potential hurdle for Danny Ainge and the C's front office, however, is the effect the coronavirus pandemic could have on the league's 2020-21 salary cap.

Regardless, we can expect Boston to do whatever it takes to assure their budding superstar is here to stay. This season, the 22-year-old leads the team with 23.6 points per game while averaging 7.1 rebounds and shooting 39.8 percent from 3-point range. He was named an All-Star for the first time in his promising career.

Tatum currently is set to make $9.9 million next year on his rookie contract.

WATCH: Jayson Tatum shows off impressive golf swing (to Kemba Walker's delight)

WATCH: Jayson Tatum shows off impressive golf swing (to Kemba Walker's delight)

What do NBA players do in the Orlando bubble when they're not on the basketball court?

They find other ways to show off their athletic prowess.

Boston Celtics teammates Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker blew off steam over the weekend by heading to a golf course near Walt Disney World, as golf is one of the recreational activities allowed under the NBA's 2020 restart plan.

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And according to his Snapchat, Tatum can hit a golf ball pretty darn far. Check out the video the Celtics forward posted Sunday night:

We're not sure what's better: Tatum's (alleged) 320-yard drive or Walker serving as his wholesome hype man.

"This view is fire, too, you've got to smoke this (drive)," Walker says in the video before shouting "Yessir!" after Tatum tees off.

If Tatum keeps improving his game, maybe he can take on C's president of basketball operations and avid golfer Danny Ainge.

In the meantime, Tatum, Walker and the Celtics appear to be finding a good work/life balance as they gear up for their restarted season, which kicks off with three scrimmages later this month before their first "seeding round" game July 31 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

2020 NBA Restart: How would Celtics fare in playoff series vs. Pacers?

2020 NBA Restart: How would Celtics fare in playoff series vs. Pacers?

The Pacers might have been an unsavory first-round matchup for any of the East’s top seeds. Then Victor Oladipo surprisingly opted out of the restart and, suddenly, a matchup with the Pacers seems far less daunting.

Yes, Indiana still has talent, especially if Malcolm Brogdon can get back to full health, especially after contracting COVID-19 during the break. A Pacers team that ranked 17th in offensive rating and 13th in net rating before the season paused remains a vulnerable foe, especially without Oladipo’s offensive talents.

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For Indiana, still stung by watching Paul George shuffle off to LA, Oladipo’s decision leaves the team pondering an uncertain future, particularly with Oladipo set to be a free agent after the 2020-2021 season.

The Pacers split two meetings with Boston this season, with Brogdon keying a December victory while Oladipo was still rehabbing. The Celtics, though, withstood Oladipo’s best performance of his brief comeback while emerging with a win in Indiana right before the season paused in early March.

The Pacers are not devoid of talent, leaning heavy on a frontcourt of first-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. But the absence of Oladipo puts pressure on players like T.J. Warren and Brogdon to shoulder the offensive burden. Suddenly it feels a lot like last year’s playoff team that Boston swept out of the playoffs in the opening round.

The Pacers had the seventh best defense in the league before the break, but they simply don’t have the offensive firepower to hang with the East’s top dogs in a seven-game series. Coach Nate McMillan did a commendable job keeping his team competitive, especially without Oladipo and Brogdon. But the team simply doesn’t have the horses to truly contend in the restart without Oladipo.

The bigger question for Indiana is what the future looks like and, after he opted out to the restart, it’s fair to wonder if Oladipo is eager to be in Indiana deep into the future.

PREDICTIONS FOR CELTICS-PACERS PLAYOFF SERIES

Chris Forsberg: It’s hard to see how this wouldn’t be a 2019 replay if the Celtics and Pacers meet up in Round 1. The Oladipo-less Pacers simply don’t have the top-end talent to hang with with the East elite. Indiana’s size has rarely bothered Boston.

The Pacers are the most agreeable foe for the East’s No. 3 seed and the only question would be whether Indiana could steal a game in a series. Boston might even get some added motivation in a matchup given the Indiana connections for players like Gordon Hayward, Romeo Langford, and Carsen Edwards. 

Prediction: Celtics in 4 games

A. Sherrod Blakely: Indiana's style of play will make this a hard-fought series regardless of who suits up or sits out for the Pacers. But without Victor Oladipo, Boston's edge in overall talent will be too much for the scrappy Pacers to overcome. 

Prediciton: Celtics in 6 games

DJ Bean: The Pacers really could have been a dark horse in the East, but with no Oladipo, I can safely say a Celtics-Pacers series would be the least scared I've ever been in my life. C's would sweep them again. 

Prediction: Celtics in 4 games

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