The Boston Celtics‘ slow start to the season had multiple people championing for the team to split up their star duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Boston’s habit of devolving into isolation-heavy offense had convinced most analysts and fans that the team’s star duo weren’t on the same page and that the team would struggle for success with the two wings taking turns on the offensive end of the floor.
However, despite the rumors that linked Brown with a move to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, it turns out another team had an interest in making a deal to acquire the Georgia native: the Miami Heat.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, “Losing can spark wandering eyes. If Philadelphia had not been able to unload Ben Simmons, Brown would have been near the top of the Sixers’ wish list. Atlanta and Miami were often mentioned by league figures as hopeful Brown suitors, too.”
Miami is already considered to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and had they acquired Brown, would easily be the odds-on favorite to make it to the NBA finals. Thankfully, a deal was never made, and Brown remained on the Celtics roster.
However, Brad Stevens stood firm in his belief that the Celtics could get the best out of their star pairing, and allowed Ime Udoka to continue coaching up his young All-Stars. Fast forward to the present day, and the Celtics are reaping the benefits of their patience and belief in the Tatum and Brown duo, with the pair playing the best basketball of their careers.
Tatum Believes in Partnership With Brown
Tatum has been teammates with Brown since entering the NBA. The duo have shared multiple successes together, including participating in multiple conference finals. Yet, as the pair have continued to develop, and more expectations placed on their shoulders, rumors about their friendship have been rife.
In a recent interview on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast, Tatum made it clear that he believes in his partnership with Brown and doesn’t understand the media narrative of splitting the pair up.
“JB’s been to three conference finals; I’ve been to two. I think we’re both still very far from our prime. And I think what people don’t understand is, ‘like, alright, if 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, but 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. Yeah, there are certain rough patches throughout a season, but we’ve won way more games together than we’ve lost,” Tatum told Redick.
Brown Believes Scrutiny Enhanced Duo’s Relationship
It’s often easy to forget that NBA players are young and that they frequent the same social media apps that we do. So, when discussions around players’ friendships or ability to play together become commonplace, it’s only logical that the players see those discussions.
Brown recently touched on his mindset when seeing those conversations take place in the public sphere, and how he never let people’s opinions change his relationship with Tatum.
“I never let it affect how I felt about JT before they started asking questions, or after, it didn’t change. I never let others’ interpretations, or what others might be saying online, determine my relationship with somebody else.
There were people questioning if we were friends, it was almost as if they made that up. I guess, in the sense that so many people have talked about it, it’s forced us to talk about it more, and I guess it has enhanced our relationship in a sense,” Brown told the media during a recent press conference.
Luckily, Tatum and Brown have come through the media circus as a stronger unit, and their play together on the court is reaping the benefits of their improved off-court communication. So, while other teams may have held an interest in acquiring Brown at the trade deadline, keeping him around was arguably the Celtics’ best move this season.