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Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum ‘thankful’ for making All-NBA first team, but wants rules around voting


2:31 PM ET

  • Tim BontempsESPN

MIAMI – Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum has said repeatedly over the past yr that he felt disrespected by being left off of last yr’s All-NBA teams — a call that cost Tatum tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars on his current contract.

After Tatum was chosen to the All-NBA first team Tuesday evening, he said Wednesday ahead of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat that there needs to be some kind of criteria for voters to follow in making their selections.

“What is the saying, a day late and a dollar short?” Tatum asked with a wry smile following Boston’s shootaround at FTX Arena. “Obviously, I’m thankful. First team All-NBA, that is a giant deal. So I’m grateful for that recognition.

“It wasn’t really incentivized for me [to make it last year] with the cash and all of that. It was more just I felt type of disrespected, and I talked about this quite a bit, just on the standards and the way it’s voted is just so wide open … there’s not likely set rules on who should qualify.

“I feel that was the frustrating part. However it happened. Did I feel I used to be the most effective 15 players last yr? One thousand percent. But that is behind me now, and I made it this yr and now we’re attempting to win a championship.”

Being left off the list last yr caused Tatum to miss out on a provision in his contract that will have bumped his salary as much as the following level of a max contract – 30 percent of the salary cap – versus the 25 percent that typically falls under rookie extensions under a rule within the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement named after Derrick Rose.

This yr, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young qualified for that very same bump by making third team All-NBA, while Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns each are actually eligible to sign massive four-year supermax contract extensions this summer because they made it.

While Tatum said he wasn’t sure exactly what the standards needs to be for voters, he did say he thinks it should go from being by positions (guard, forward and center) to positionless, and made his point by saying it didn’t make much sense that Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, who finished second to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in MVP voting, needs to be a second-team All-NBA player.

The irony is that had the league been positionless with its ballot this yr, Tatum would’ve been second team, and Embiid would’ve been first.

“There just needs to be some rules in place,” Tatum said. “I do not know exactly, but perhaps you need to need to play a certain quantity of games, or perhaps you are a playoff team or not.

“I feel it should just be just like the 15 best players. Obviously with some guys in a contract yr, supermax deals involved, that is tough. I’m sure that is tough on the voters as well. So I feel there’s lots that may very well be modified in that area, in that regard.”

After Boston upset last yr, ending with a .500 record within the COVID-shortened 2020-21 regular season, Tatum finished just out of the voting. He said the largest reason for his inclusion this yr, besides Boston playing higher, was his improved playmaking.

“We won more games than last yr,” he said. “But I feel playmaking, just having the ability to read the sport lots higher slowed it down for me in lots of ways. And I feel that has shown just with my playmaking ability and running the offense at times.”

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