On Saturday, Brian Windhorst hopped on ESPN to say that the Boston Celtics will most likely offer Jayson Tatum a max contract come this summer. This comes as no surprise after Tatum made his first All-Star Game appearance this year while averaging a hair over 23 points per game in his third NBA season. It's a rather easy decision for Boston, but when Tatum's contract hits the books things will be pretty tight money-wise.
How tight it will be depends a lot on this year's All-NBA selections. Tatum is eligible for a supermax contract should he make an All-NBA team this year. Those won't be announced until the NBA figures out what it's going to do with the regular season once basketball starts up again, but it's the difference of nearly $40 million for Tatum. The top four forward spots are likely locked up by Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Luka Doncic; Tatum will be battling for one of the two Third-Team selections with Ben Simmons, Pascal Siakam, and Bam Adebayo. Tatum's post-All Star break tear might give him the edge. Should that happen, he'll be able to make up to $217 million on his next deal, versus $181 million if he doesn't earn that selection.
When that kicks in starting in 2021, the Celtics will have three players on big contracts between Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker. Brown signed a $115 million extension last summer and Walker's deal will pay him north of $30 million for the next three years. Talks will also likely start with Marcus Smart next offseason as he approaches the final year of his $52 million deal, and Boston won't hesitate to give their Defensive Player of the Year-caliber guard a big raise. Gordon Hayward's max contract will be off the books in 2021, but that's the only cap relief the Celtics are looking at in the foreseeable future.
All in all, Boston could have four players making upwards of $25 million per year by the start of the 2021-22 season. Considering three of those players are draft picks that panned out as well as anyone could have hoped, it's a good problem to have. But it doesn't change the fact that Boston will be pressed up against the cap ceiling even more than they are now. Danny Ainge is one of the league's best general managers, and he'll need to hit on draft picks and fringe signings to ensure the Celtics have a deep enough roster around their stars.