Jayson Tatum

Report: Celtics exercise Jayson Tatum's fourth-year option

Report: Celtics exercise Jayson Tatum's fourth-year option

The Boston Celtics have made an important yet expected move.

According to Sham Charania of The Athletic, the Celtics have exercised their fourth-year option to retain star forward Jayson Tatum.

Tatum was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Celtics selected him after trading down from the No. 1 overall pick. The Philadelphia 76ers would select Markelle Fultz at that juncture.

All first-round picks in the NBA sign four-year deals with two team options on the final two seasons. Given Tatum's performance, it was a foregone conclusion that the Celtics would exercise this option. It was just a matter of when.

Tatum will make $9.9 million in the final season of his rookie deal. During the 2020 offseason, he will be eligible to sign an extension with the Celtics, much like Jaylen Brown, the team's No. 3 overall pick in 2016, is eligible to sign one with the team right now.

Last year, Tatum averaged 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals while playing 31.1 minutes per game for the Celtics. They are hoping that he will make a bigger leap during his third season and really emerge as one of the NBA's rising stars.

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Jayson Tatum, Romeo Langford out for preseason finale

Jayson Tatum, Romeo Langford out for preseason finale

BOSTON — Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (illness) and rookie Romeo Langford (right knee sprain) both sat out Monday’s practice and neither will play in Tuesday’s exhibition finale against the Cavaliers.

"Tatum was sick today, so we'll leave him back,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "Other than that, everybody practiced except Romeo. Romeo's sore today, as to be expected. Not playing tomorrow. I haven’t gotten anything like two weeks, three weeks — I haven’t gotten any timeline on it. I just know not tomorrow.”

Langford will still make the trip to Cleveland but will not play. Stevens hinted that many of Boston’s heavy-lifters from the first three preseason games will see a downshift in the finale.

“It'll be some of the guys that played a little bit less the last few games,” Stevens said when asked who he expected to play on Tuesday night in the rematch with the Cavaliers.

The Celtics wrap up exhibition play Tuesday then will have a full week before their season-opener in Philadelphia.

"We do have, I think, five practices before our first game. It gives you a chance to clean up stuff you need to clean up,” said Stevens. "If you want to add something for your opponents that are coming up, you can do that. You've got all kinds of flexibility with that."

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Celtics Spotlight: Is Jayson Tatum ready for the leap that didn't happen last season?

Celtics Spotlight: Is Jayson Tatum ready for the leap that didn't happen last season?

When Jayson Tatum’s 14-foot fadeaway clanged off the front iron on his first shot of the 2019 preseason last week against Charlotte, it was fair to wonder if he was truly committed to hunting better shots this season. 

He followed with two finger rolls, including one over two defenders after attacking off the dribble from the high post, and a corner 3-pointer — all of this in little more than a minute span — and Celtics fans were probably a little woozy thinking about what could be this season.

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Tatum has since owned his sophomore struggles, dismissed those that want to blame Kobe Bryant for his mid-range penchant last year, and reaffirmed a desire to make the sort of leap that even he was expecting last season.

The formula for that leap might be as simple as embracing a high-efficiency shot profile and letting his natural talents take over. And the preseason glimpses have been super encouraging.

It’s a successful season for Tatum if… 

…he keeps his promise to prioritize 3-pointers and layups. Tatum’s shot chart early in the preseason has been an analytics dream with nearly half of his attempts beyond the 3-point arc and another 40 percent from 10 feet or closer. Good things happened when Tatum was on the court last season, despite his questionable shot selection, and even better things will happen if he maximizes his offensive efficiency. A really successful season might just be Tatum emerging as Boston’s No. 1 offensive option by the time the playoffs roll around. 

It’s a disappointing season for Tatum if… 

…he falls into old habits of settling for mid-range jumpers and lazy fadeaways. Yes, he’s talented enough to make a lot of those shots, and still will. But he’s also good enough to probe off the pick and roll, get defenders off the ground with a head fake, and finish closer to the rim.  It’d be disappointing if he wasn’t in the conversation for a trip to the All-Star Game. 

2019-2020 Outlook

Thirty-five NBA players averaged 20 points or more per game last season. Even with all the obvious offensive talent that Boston has on its roster this season, Tatum should be in that category this year. He must play with more of a killer instinct and be someone that wants the ball in his hands in crunch time or when things are going sideways for the Celtics. But, building off what Gregg Popovich stressed to him at the FIBA World Championships, Tatum must also find ways to impact the game beyond scoring — whether that's with his length on the defensive end or being able to create for others when defenses collapse on him. Tatum has only scratched the surface of his potential to this point.

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