With Monday's loss to the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics have been eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in four seasons.
Coming up just short yet again, the Celtics are still in a great position moving forward as there shouldn't be too much roster turnover this offseason. Even so, Boston still has a couple big decisions on the horizon between now and the start of the 2021 season, one of which is out of their control, one of which is within their control.
For more on that, here's what's next for the Celtics.
The NBA Draft
2020 NBA Draft picks: No. 14 (from Memphis), No. 26, No. 30 (from Milwaukee), No. 47 (from Brooklyn)
The Celtics have four picks in this upcoming draft - three first rounders and one second rounder.
Courtesy of the Memphis Grizzlies, the Celtics snuck into the last pick of the lottery where they will likely look to add some frontcourt depth. Some names that come to mind: Maryland forward/centre Jalen Smith, Duke forward/centre Vernon Carey and Memphis forward Precious Achiuwa.
However, it is worth noting that general manager Danny Ainge has a history of drafting who he feels is the best player available as opposed to trying to fit one of the team's needs.
With four picks and not many roster spots available heading into next season, expect Boston to be active in the trade market on draft day.
The Celtics don't have many free agent decisions to make, but one decision that will be made for them will be one of their biggest storylines of the offseason.
That decision? Gordon Hayward's player option for 2020-21, which is worth $34.2 million.
It's been a rollercoaster few years in Boston for Hayward, who suffered a career-altering injury in the first year of his max contract. He's responded well since, looking more like his former All-Star self this past season in averaging 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game on 50% shooting from the field and 38% from 3-point range.
While it's hard to believe he'd turn down roughly $35 million - especially with the uncertainty of salary cap moving forward - it's ultimately his decision if he returns to the Celtics next season. Should Hayward pick up his player option, he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2021. If he declines his player option, he will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
As for the rest of the team...
The only other player option comes from reserve centre Enes Kanter, who will have the choice to stay in Boston for $5.0 million. Reserve point guard Brad Wanamaker has a qualifying offer worth $1.8 million, giving the Celtics the choice of keeping him or letting him test the waters as a restricted free agent. Reserve forward Semi Ojeleye has a team option worth $1.8 million. If Boston declines that option, he will hit unrestricted free agency.
On rookie-scale contracts, the Celtics will have to decide if they will retain centre Tacko Fall and guard Tremont Waters. Should they defer either of their qualifying offers (each worth about $1.5 million), they would become restricted free agents.
Jayson Tatum's contract extension
When Tatum was named All-NBA Third Team this season, this contract negotiation entered a whole different realm.
As of now, Tatum is eligible for 28% of the salary cap after making All-NBA Third Team as opposed to 25% had he missed out on an All-NBA nod. He is also eligible for a five-year "Super Max" extension, meaning that if Tatum earns another All-NBA honour next season (or wins MVP or Defensive Player of the Year), he will be able to earn up to 30% of the salary cap.
While it's still unclear what 30% of the salary cap will look like given how little we know on how the season being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic will impact the league financially, NBA writer Keith Smith projects Tatum's "Super Max" extension to be somewhere in the ballpark of $217.5 million over five years - the largest in franchise history.
Should he fail to make an All-NBA Team again next season (or win MVP or DPOY), Tatum's extension would likely be in the ballpark of $181.3 million over five years, per Smith.
With the extension not kicking in until the 2021-22 season, that would mean Boston would have the superstar forward locked up until the 2025-26 season, where he would still only be 27 years old and primed for another major deal.
This is without a doubt the highest priority for the Celtics this offseason, as Tatum took his game to another level in the playoffs following a promising regular season that earned him his first All-Star selection. He is clearly the face of the franchise moving forward.
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