The Celtics Now Belong to Jayson Tatum

Danny Ainge refused to include Jayson Tatum in any Anthony Davis deal (as he should have). Kyrie Irving is as good as gone. Al Horford just opted out of his last year. Look around guys.

The Celtics now belong to Jayson Tatum.

If you had asked me two years ago (23 months ago but whos counting) I would have traded “every player on the Celtics roster” for Anthony Davis. But so much has changed since then. AD shot his way out of New Orleans, he demanded a trade to the Knicks or the Lakers, his agent Rich Paul tried to strong arm a deal to LA mid-season and then made it wildly clear that AD would not re-sign with Boston. Now I get it that it’s Danny Ainge’s job to call that bluff and pull the trigger on a trade because A. Davis may end up loving Boston like Kevin Garnett did and B. Davis suddenly would be sacrificing $50 Million dollars to leave Boston for LA. But, by landing in LA, Davis and Paul both get exactly what they wanted. Maybe it was a bluff, maybe it wasn’t. All I know is I’m not trading Tatum and the rest of the team for a guy who may or may not play in Boston for less than 12 months. I’m just not doing it. Tatum has shown way too much promise and you’d have to throw in heart and soul guys like Marcus Smart *just* to make the money work. Pass.

As for the Kyrie situation, I have been going back and forth on my thoughts because I hate reacting to news that hasn’t happened. I don’t want to bury a guy for a decision he hasn’t made yet. BUT, it sure seems like Kyrie is already out the door. There are reports that the Celtics are resigned to losing him in free agency. In fact Adam Himmelsbach wrote in the Globe that Kyrie has essentially “ghosted” the Celtics leading up to free agency, which would be the least surprising shit I’ve heard about him if true. Kyrie has shown that, despite all his grandiose speeches and delusions of grandeur as this elder statesman, he is just immature. A leader, or even a grown ass adult for that matter, handles last season very differently. I’m 30 and even I know that publicly criticizing younger, more impressionable co-workers is a piss poor way to inspire confidence and improve performance. Read a management book on one of your 6 hour flights for christ’s sake. Even is criticizing Kyrie for making the same mistakes as the guy he so desperately wanted to get away from on the Cavs.

That doesn’t mean I think things are beyond repair though; I honestly believe Kyrie could come back, show a little embarrassment at the way everything has been handled the past 12 months, put up a good month of basketball and all would be forgiven. But, I just don’t think thats the way he’s wired.

And this is why the Boston Celtics do not kowtow to superstars. The C’s did everything they possibly could have to appease their young superstar in Kyrie Irving and he still is less than two weeks away from likely leaving them at the altar. You may need to do that in order to win an NBA title, but I’d rather live and die with guys like Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas than beg a superstar to please come play for our historic franchise. Why?

Woj also tweeted earlier today that Horford has reportedly opted out of his contract.

To be completely honest, I fully expected this from big Al. He is 33 years old with one year left on his deal in a suddenly barren free agent market. This is his last chance to get a long term deal. So he could opt in and cash the $30M check, or he could opt out and potentially negotiate a 3-year $60M deal to stay with the C’s and secure the bag for another $30M. Nobody is going to pay Horford $30M per on his next deal so it makes perfect sense for him to opt out. Orrr he could see the writing on the wall in Boston and try to take a lesser deal to jump ship to a more clear cut contender. Except, theres not so many clear cut contenders out there now with Golden State’s rash of injuries, Kawhi’s uncertainty in Toronto, LA’s revival with AD, Philly’s 3 starters heading towards free agency [plus Ben Simmons needing a max extension next summer], Milwaukee lurking, not to mention the apparent turmoil in Houston. So theres a whole lot of second tier teams that think they have a legit shot at a title next year.

I know Mattes wrote about this potential deal before, but with Al Horford opting out it makes a trade for Mike Conley seem unlikely at this point. Not that a soon to be 32-year-old point guard would necessarily become the face of the Celtics, but its another legit player seemingly off the board. In fact, just check out Mattes’ entire breakdown of what the Celtics can do this offseason with AD off the board.

So to Tatum, Brown and the other young guys: you all privately and publicly battled with Kyrie last year for mostly petty reasons. Kyrie is definitely to blame for that, but Tatum, Brown and co. aren’t without fault. Either way the team suffered as a result. Tatum, Brown and the young guys reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals without Kyrie (and Hayward) so I get it. Well now Kyrie is all but gone so here you go. It’s your team now Jayson. Jaylen can be your 1A, but this is your team.

Tatum has the best pedigree, the highest ceiling, has shown the most elite offensive flashes, and has the length to play D, can be a spot up shooter or get to the rim. I am excited to see what a 3rd year Jayson Tatum looks like with the ball in his hands a lot more. I think Tatum will be an All-NBA player before long….but he better be. Danny just bet the next decade of the Celtics’ fortunes on Tatum being that good. Because if he’s not, we have become the Atlanta Hawks.

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