Celtics Insider

Forsberg: No All-NBA berth proves costly for Tatum

Celtics Insider

Jayson Tatum did not earn a spot on the 2020-21 All-NBA teams and it cost him a possible $32.6 million boost in his rookie extension that kicks in this summer.

Tatum finished seventh among forwards and did not land on either of the three All-NBA teams. The six forwards selected were Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Julius Randle, LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, and Paul George.

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If Tatum had earned an All-NBA berth, he would have triggered the designated rookie extension criteria — also referred to as the Rose Rule — allowing the Celtics to pay him an even higher percentage of the salary cap.

Tatum’s extension is worth $163 million over the next five years with a starting salary of $28.1 million (or 25 percent of a projected $112 million cap). If Tatum had earned All-NBA, it would have escalated to $195.6 million with a first-year salary of $33.7 million (or 30 percent of the cap).

Tatum’s deal has an average annual value of $32.6 million; it would have been $39.1 million with an All-NBA berth.

It should be noted that Tatum’s fifth year is a player option in the 2024-25 season but he was unlikely to trigger it regardless of an All-NBA berth, especially with an expected influx of new TV money that could cause a salary cap spike and position Tatum for an even greater payday on his next contract at age 27.

 

Tatum’s more modest payday could help Boston avoid a steeper luxury tax bill in the coming seasons but the Celtics are still nearly at cap next season with the salary of just four players in Tatum, Kemba Walker ($36 million), Jaylen Brown ($25.3 million), and Marcus Smart ($14.3 million). That’s before any extension for unrestricted free agent Evan Fournier and doesn’t factor in the other guaranteed salaries that will leave Boston at the tax line before it even starts offseason maneuvering.

Tatum made a strong case for his second consecutive All-NBA appearance with a late-season surge, scoring 50 points twice over the final month of the regular season. Voters submitted their ballots before he scored 50 points twice more, including in the play-in win over the Wizards and a Game 3 triumph over the Nets.

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A midseason battle with COVID and Boston’s inconsistent play overall likely conspired against Tatum, who landed on the All-NBA third team after the 2019-20 season.

Tatum earned two first-team votes, nine second-team votes, and 32 third-team votes for a total of 69 points. That was 20 points behind George. Tatum had more total points than Kyrie Irving (61 points), who earned a third-team spot at the guard position.

Yahoo! Sports reported that Tatum has committed to playing for Team USA at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, something that could further thrust him into the national spotlight and allow him to mingle with other superstars who Boston could look to target down the road when their salary cap constraints begin to loosen.