We’re just over a month away from the NBA’s trade deadline, and with each passing day, the rumor mill will continue to intensify.
In his first season as President of Basketball Operations, Brad Stevens is fast approaching the point of the season where he needs to make decisions on how the Boston Celtics roster will look for the remainder of the year. And for all the rumors about what the Celtics may or may not do, he seems to be taking it all in his stride.
In a recent interview, Steven’s noted that a trade isn’t the only way the Celtics can improve their current on-court performances.
“From an analytics and statistical standpoint we are probably better than our record. I’m encouraged by that, but we also have to improve. Improvement comes from development and growth as a team. Sometimes it comes from one small tweak to our rotation. And sometimes, all of a sudden, it’s the perfect fit. And sometimes it comes from moves in the middle of the season of someone who will hopefully fit well,” Stevens said.
While those words won’t fill the average Celtics fan with joy, Stevens’ hasn’t ruled out bringing in reinforcements or moving on from deadwood. Instead, he’s taking a holistic approach to the current team, understanding the circumstances haven’t been kind to the Celtics over the last 18 months.
Stevens Has Full Faith in Jayson Tatum
Since Jayson Tatum signed his rookie extension, he’s been dealt his fair share of criticism. From a perceived selfish style of play to what some believe is a lack of leadership skills. Tatum has had to weather multiple storms, but as the Celtics leading star, that’s something that comes with the territory.
“You can watch one play where he came up short, and he could have done 10 other things great. When you look at Jayson’s first five years in the league, and he’s not even through his fifth year, very few players in the history of the league have done what he’s done between 19- and 23-years-old.
I always keep that in mind. This guy is a real worker, he’s incredibly focused, he takes care of his body like very few guys that age do, he’s always available, and he’s one of the game’s really, really good scorers at the age of 23. AND he has a feel for the game that I think is akin to a 35-year-old. He’s super-special, and we know that. I just make sure that he knows, if there’s any criticism, that I could care less what anybody else is saying,” Stevens said.
Tatum started the season terribly slow from a shooting standpoint, which had fans questioning his ability to spearhead a team’s offense, especially one with aspirations of contending for a championship in the near future. However, throughout December, with Jaylen Brown missing due to injury, Tatum stepped up to the plate and began to remind everybody why players and coaches around the NBA so highly rate him.
Before being sidelined due to health and safety protocols, Tatum averaged 27.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists over December 12 games, shooting 45.6% from the field and 35% from three, per Basketball-Reference. Furthermore, Tatum’s performances against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 7 and the Milwaukee Bucks on December 13 reminded everybody what he’s capable of when faced with some of the best team’s in the league.
Stevens Shocked by Rumor Inaccuracies
NBA rumors are a fickle thing. With so many people involved in trade discussions and many parties set to benefit from a potential deal, it’s hard to see the truth through the smoke.
Could the rumor be leaked by a coach or assistant with an ax to grind? Or perhaps an agent looking to ramp up his client’s value? Or maybe, just maybe, somebody overheard something in the corridors and want’s their moment in the limelight. We will never know why the leaking of a specific discussion, we can guess, but that’s as far as we can go.
However, during his interview, Stevens noted that the inaccuracies of reports are what he finds most perplexing.
“Don’t want to get into who does what (in spreading rumors). I just understand there’s a lot of rumors out there. All these teams have huge staffs, there’s a lot of people around the team, so who knows how things get out. My deal is I’m just trying to get as much accurate information as I can and then help our team improve,” Stevens said, “It’s amazing how off a lot of the rumors are.
I think we all at some level just get immune to it. When I’m on the calls with other teams I know what they’ve told me they’re looking for, at or how they’re evaluating their team, or when they think they’ll have to decide by. You have a pulse on who’s available or maybe available and all that stuff.”
Unfortunately, rumors are the nature of the beast, and with trade season officially upon us, Stevens will need to buckle in for the ride. Because a fan base hungry for success and improvement will closely follow each rumor, hoping to see some movement from the front office.
With the Celtics currently under .500, and almost half the season gone, Boston can expect their names to be included in virtually every major trade rumor for the next six weeks. The hope is that not all of those rumors are just someone blowing smoke.