The Boston Celtics have been one of the best teams in the NBA since the turn of the year, but it’s clear they’re not a championship contender as currently constructed.
With that in mind, one NBA front office executive recently told Heavy that he believes Boston could put forward a package to acquire the Los Angeles Lakers‘ Anthony Davis and that the deal wouldn’t need to include Celtics star Jayson Tatum.
“It was no secret Danny wanted him (in 2019). He would have given up Tatum in a heartbeat for AD. They wanted to offer Brown, but it would have come down to Tatum. And he would have done it in the end, I think. Now the Lakers would want Tatum back, but there is no way the Celtics do that.
“But put AD in a deal with Horton-Tucker for Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Aaron Nesmith? The Lakers would have to consider that. I’d take it,” said the executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Tatum, who is under contract through the 2025-26 season, would likely have to sign off on the deal from Boston’s side because franchise players will sometimes have a say in blockbuster trades. Tatum and Brown, the Celtics’ other superstar, have developed a close relationship during their time with the Celtics together.
The Executive Doesn’t Believe Davis Would Choose Boston
When Davis, who will turn 29 on March 11, was a hot commodity with the New Orleans Pelicans, it was clear he wanted to control his own destiny. Sometimes it’s easier to trade for a superstar than it is to convince them to stay long-term.
And therein lies the issue for the Celtics. Sure, the Lakers may accept a package centered on Brown, but would Davis want to be in Boston? Would he look to force his way out of the city before his contract ended?
“They (the Lakers) made such an effort to bring AD to that team. And if they are going to deal him, they would only send him where he wants to be. And I just don’t think Boston would ever be a team on his list,” the executive told Heavy.
Obviously, when trading for a franchise cornerstone talent, keeping the player happy is always a gamble. Some players value winning; others prefer to be in a city that offers them opportunities outside of basketball. It’s unclear what Davis values or what teams he would have an interest in joining should he, or the Lakers, decide to move on.
Tatum Recently Backed His Partnership With Brown
The Brown and Tatum partnership has come under increasing scrutiny this season, with multiple analysts calling for the Celtics to revamp their roster by trading away Brown. That rhetoric grew stronger during Tatum’s COVID-induced absence earlier this season but has subsided since the Celtics’ sharp upturn of form.
In a recent podcast appearance on “The Old Man & The Three,” Tatum, who will turn 24 on March 3, sounded off about his partnership with Brown and why Celtics fans are happy the pair on playing on the same team.
“JB has been to three conference finals, I’ve been to two. I think we’re both still very far from our prime. I think what people don’t understand is, you want to break us up, the grass is not always greener. There are not a lot of guys in the NBA like JB. Or if you want to get rid of me – not to toot my own horn, I think I’m one of the best players. So I couldn’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to have two of the best players that are under 25 on your team,” Tatum told JJ Redick on “The Old Man & The Three” podcast.
Tatum could change his mind if the opportunity to play alongside Davis were to become a reality because, though Brown is projected to become one of the best two-way wings in the NBA, Davis already is arguably one of the best seven players in the league.