After an impressive playoff run to the Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Celtics' season came to an end late last month, when they were eliminated by the Miami Heat. With their season now done, and everyone back home from the bubble, it's time for the team to start thinking about the future.
Chief among their offseason moves will be coming to terms on a contract extension for their young star, Jayson Tatum. During an end-of-season press conference on Thursday, Celtics president Danny Ainge said that while negotiations aren't allowed yet, he's "confident" the team will be able to work out a deal.
"Jayson knows how much we like him. We have a good relationship. Jayson likes it here, so I'm confident that we'll be able to work something out this summer -- this offseason, I should say."
Tatum was asked about the possibility of an extension following the Celtics' season-ending loss in Game 6 against the Heat, but offered little, noting he had been focused on the playoffs. Via NESN:
"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."
There's not really much to read into there, but given Ainge's comments, Tatum's importance to the team and the money he's set to make, it would be stunning if the two sides don't quickly come to an agreement on a max extension. The exact amount won't be known until the league figures out the salary cap situation moving forward, but assuming a $109 million cap, Tatum's deal could be worth up to $158 million, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN.
If signed, that would be the richest contract in Celtics history. That's quite a feat considering the players who have worn that jersey, but if Tatum keeps playing like he did in the second half of this season, and into the playoffs, he'll be well worth the investment. Though he had his struggles at times like any young player, Tatum averaged 25.7 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in 17 playoff games, while playing over 40 minutes a night.
Along the way, he made it clear that the Celtics are his team -- both now, and in the future.