Boston Celtics reserve likely earned bigger contract in offseason after Game 3

2024 NBA Finals - Game Three
2024 NBA Finals - Game Three / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Whether he stays with the Boston Celtics in the offseason or gets an offer he can't refuse elsewhere, Xavier Tillman Sr. likely earned himself extra money with his critical 11 minutes on the floor during Game 3 of the NBA Finals with Kristaps Porzingis on the shelf.

With the third best box plus-minus (+9) for the Cs, Tillman knocked down his one shot attempt, a 3-pointer that extended their third quarter lead to 13 with under three minutes left, while grabbing four rebounds and swatting away two shots. Small contributions in the grand scheme, since the Dallas Mavericks cut the lead to within one point in the fourth, but it's invaluable to have bench players who are ready when called upon regardless of how many minutes they regularly receive.

After Game 3, Tillman told reporters that he had been waiting for this moment and prepared accordingly.

“This is something that I’ve been preparing for, I guess, for a while now,” Tillman said postgame (h/t “So, I was ready for the opportunity. They were kind of hinting at potentially if KP’s workout didn’t go well and he didn’t feel comfortable that I was going to have to step in today.”

Xavier Tillman Sr. could re-sign with the Boston Celtics

Sure, other teams around the league may be circling Tillman now as he's broken out and contributed Finals-winning basketball to the Celtics' cause. But don't write off Boston bringing him back, as they own his bird rights.

With no MLE due to being above the highest tax apron, the Cs can only use veteran's minimum contracts or re-sign their own players on bird rights. Tillman or Luke Kornet will get the one big payday this offseason among the team's reserves, and the other will either have to accept a discount to stay in Boston or chase that money elsewhere.

Tillman, who has a close relationship with Al Horford and was called upon in Game 3 without Porzingis instead of Kornet, just earned either a pay-raise with the Celtics or an MLE-level offer to go elsewhere.