The Boston Celtics will almost certainly offer Jayson Tatum a max contract extension the first second they're able to this offseason. On the heels of Boston's elimination from the playoffs, Tatum was unable to talk about his future with the franchise.
"That's a tough question to answer," Tatum told reporters Sunday. "I haven't even thought about that yet. I was just focused on this season.
"The front office and my agent gotta talk about it. But I'm not thinking about that right now. We just lost a series. Just thinking about the guys in the locker room and the games. That's what I'm thinking about. Stuff like that, going to happen, if it happens, [is] not really my concern. I'm not even thinking about that."
Tatum is eligible for a designated player extension, which allows the Celtics to offer him a contract starting at 30 percent of the salary cap. It's a near-guarantee they will do so and equally likely that Tatum will jump on the offer.
The only potential snag in negotiations is the NBA's uncertain financial situation. The league has already lost a significant chunk of expected revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic and may lose more next season depending on how many fans can be welcomed back to stands (if any). Tatum's max would be at 30 percent of the 2021-22 salary cap, at which point a sense of normalcy may return and allow him to maximize his earning potential.
The overwhelming odds are Tatum will accept the rookie max extension, regardless of the projections of the salary cap. It would be borderline unprecedented for a player in that situation to decline the rookie extension, and Tatum has settled brilliantly into being the face of the Celtics' future.
Tatum averaged 23.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists during the regular season, earning his first All-NBA selection at age 22. After a frustrating 2018-19 campaign that was defined by infighting in the Celtics locker room, Boston's chemistry seemed to harmonize after the departure of Kyrie Irving and acknowledgement this is Tatum's team to lead into the future.
Signing the extension seems like a no-brainer commitment to stepping into that leadership role for the foreseeable future.