It cost him $33 million. Or at least $25 million (if he uses his player option to get out of the final year of his new contract).
Either way, not making the All-NBA team this year hit the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum hard in the pocketbook — he did not get a Rose rule extension to his max contract, and that is a lot of green left behind.
It’s not the money that frustrated Tatum, who is playing for Team USA in Las Vegas right now and will head with them to the Tokyo Olympics. Rather, it’s the principle of the thing, Tatum told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“Yeah, I was mad about it and it had nothing to do with the money,” he said. “I just felt like I increased my assists, my points, my rebounds, I clearly had a better season this year than last season. With COVID and how it affected our team, I guess people held that against me. I clearly should have made one of those teams but it will happen, but just get better for next year. How could you watch my game and the season I had and think I wasn’t one of the best 15 players?”
Tatum actually had the 15th most points from voters to make the All-NBA Team, however, because of the NBA’s insistence on outdated traditional positions — two guards, two forwards, one center — Tatum missed out because more voters had the Clippers’ Paul George as a forward. George finished the voting with 89 points, Tatum had 69, and the final guard to make the team, Kyrie Irving, had 61. Voters could list both Tatum and George as either guards or forwards in the NBA’s system (providing voters flexibility), while both George and Tatum played 97% of their minutes at forward (via Basketball-Reference).
Tatum finished the season averaging 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists a game, shooting 38.6% on 3-pointers.
Tatum also said in the article he is excited about new Celtics coach Ime Udoka and the roster’s potential, despite a .500 record and a first-round playoff exit last season. Tatum feels the Celtics are better than that and expects a bounce-back season.
He, for one, is motivated. Just don’t say it’s about the money.