The Boston Celtics’ recent success may have calmed the waters, but despite the club’s repeated statements that it is committed to building around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, at least two of those three sides are headed for a major decision in the coming months.
The Celtics are said to be listening to all offers in advance of the February 10 NBA trade deadline. “They’re not in any position to be closing doors,” one league executive told Heavy. But, barring an unrefusable offer, it’s far more likely the potential for fireworks would come closer to July 4.
“Right around the draft is when you’re going to see a lot of things happen — all over the league,” one source told Heavy of the June 23 dispersal.
And it won’t be just the Celtics making the call on how to proceed. Multiple sources have told Heavy that, absent the team getting its act together and playing more to its potential, Brown could be the one to acknowledge that the mix isn’t right and seek a move.
Celtics Have Improved in Recent Weeks
It’s important to note that the Celts have been far more cohesive of late in winning four of their last five games since the return of Marcus Smart. And players are saying Brown has taken a more vocal role, indicating that he obviously wants to avoid major changes and make things work with the current core.
But even just the possibility that a player of Brown’s abilities may find his way to the market has raised the eyebrows of a number of general managers around the NBA. Due diligence is getting done.
One personnel man told Heavy, “Who knows if we ever get a real chance to trade for a player like that? But if you do, you’d better be ready to move fast.”
Celtics sources insist they’re not floating Brown’s name in trade talks, and word back from other clubs confirms that is the case.
“Put it this way: we know we’d have to give up A LOT to get a Jaylen Brown,” one executive told Heavy.
Jaylen Brown on a Hot Streak Lately
Brown is under contract until 2024 at $28.7 and $30.7 million. He’s coming off an All-Star Game appearance in 2021, and his candidacy for this year’s game is hindered mainly by some time missed for injury earlier in the season and the Celts’ uninspiring play for much of the campaign. C’s coach Ime Udoka said Monday that he’s among those who factor in a team’s record when voting for the All-Star reserves.
The 6-6 swingman is averaging 24.4 points for the season, but he’s risen to 29.0 points on 52.5% shooting in the last four games. The Celtics’ four wins have come over the faltering Wizards, sagging Sacramento, the injury-depleted and not-very-good Pelicans and the Miami Heat minus Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry. But outside of an uncomfortable loss in Atlanta on January 28, the Bostonians have played with much better pace and ball movement.
Opponents have taken notice.
One coach told Heavy, “This is more like they want to play. This is more like what Brad (Stevens) was trying to get out of them last year. But when it was going bad, it was really hard to watch. It seemed like Brown was feeding off Tatum holding it. Like, Brown goes, ‘Ah, screw it. Tatum’s held it three straight times. Now if I get the ball, I’m shooting no matter what.’ That just kills what you’re trying to do as a team. You can see it happening.
“But if they can get it together and start playing the right way, I mean, no one denies the talent that’s there.”
And no one denies that the Celtics won’t be able to stand pat if that all that talent leaves them hovering around .500 for a second straight season.