Tatum gets $195 million maximum extension

From Adam Wells of B/R:

After emerging as one of the best players in the NBA last season, Jayson Tatum has reportedly been rewarded with a contract extension from the Boston Celtics

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Tatum’s deal will be worth $195 million over five years.

Wojnarowski provided more details:

Tatum established himself as a go-to superstar for the Celtics in 2019-20. The Duke alum set career highs in scoring (23.4 points per game), rebounds (7.0 per game), assists (3.0 per game) and shot 40.3 percent from three-point range. 

The Celtics originally owned the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft before moving down two spots in a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers

Even though point guard Markelle Fultz, who wound up being the top pick by Philadelphia, was considered the top prospect in the 2017 draft class, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was high on Tatum because of his positional versatility. 

He told reporters in June 2017:

“I think that we’re all seeing the way the game has evolved. And you really can’t have too many versatile players that can play multiple defensive positions. I think that we, in Jayson and in Semi [Ojeleye], and Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird, they all sorta fit that category. The three of them are swing or wing players. Semi can play some of the 4, and Jayson can play some of the 4, we think, in time. So yeah, that’s the way the game is headed.”

Tatum was an integral part of Boston’s rotation during the 2017-18 season. The former Duke star averaged13.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, and he led the Celtics in three-point percentage (43.4).

The 2018-19 season saw Tatum increase his scoring average (15.7), but his shooting efficiency got worse. His field-goal percentage went from 47.5 to 45.0, and his three-point percentage fell to 37.3. 

Boston’s playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks was particularly frustrating for Tatum. He was held to 36.4 percent shooting overall (12.5 percent from three-point range) in five games. 

Despite those struggles, an NBA general manager told Sean Deveney of Sporting News in May 2019 that Tatum is still a player with the potential to be a franchise building block. 

“You can build a team around Jayson Tatum,” the GM said. “He can be your No. 1 option. I really believe that. He can create for himself. He can get to his spots. He has a beautiful shot. But I don’t know if you can win with Jayson Tatum as your No. 1 guy. So if you’re rebuilding, you know, you have to think about that.”

Some of that assessment has turned out to be right. Tatum still hasn’t won a championship, but he’s only 22 heading into his fourth NBA season. The strides he made in the second half of last season suggest the Celtics can play for titles with him as their best player. 

Boston advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last season for the third time in four years. 

With a nucleus of Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart, the Celtics are poised to be contenders in the Eastern Conference for a long time.

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