Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum’s time with Team USA could be pivotal for C’s

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 06: Bradley Beal #4 and Jayson Tatum #10 of the 2021 USA Basketball Men's National Team (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 06: Bradley Beal #4 and Jayson Tatum #10 of the 2021 USA Basketball Men's National Team (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

It’s safe to say the 2020-21 season was a trying one for the Boston Celtics. Fresh off a deep playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals in last year’s NBA bubble, the Celtics never seemed to figure things out this season, and were eventually bounced out of the playoffs in five games against the Brooklyn Nets.

The overarching bright spot for the season was the growth of both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Faced with more responsibility due to the lack of options available night in and night out, both players stepped up in a big way to help the Boston Celtics stay relevant for most of the season. When Brown eventually succumbed to a season ending wrist injury, the load was all Tatum’s and he took it square on his shoulders, even helping the C’s pull out a win against the heavily favored Nets in the playoffs.

Tatum’s leap to an All-NBA caliber player helped earn him a spot on the Team USA roster that will head to Japan and compete in the 2021 Summer Olympics. It’s only fitting that Tatum’s leap to stardom has put him in the same spot as some of the NBA’s other top players in the league.

And while Tatum’s inclusion on the team is not only mightily important for his career, it also has the potential to be quite important for the Celtics as well. While it will certainly be interesting to see how Tatum performs throughout the Olympic Games, that’s not the only thing Celtics fans should pay attention to during his time with Team USA.

Why is Tatum’s inclusion on Team USA so important for the Boston Celtics?

Tatum is widely regarded around the NBA as the face of the Celtics nowadays. Sure, Brown has been right there producing alongside him, but Tatum is still a full year younger than him, and already has developed into a more deadly scorer than Brown. With the Celtics coming off a down season, you best believe Tatum is chirping in his USA teammates ears letting them know how Boston is just one star away from being a true title contender.

Now more so than ever, the NBA is a players league. Remember that fiery conversation between Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at the All-Star Game three years ago? It’s no surprise that they teamed up in Brooklyn, and then actively recruited their third star to the Barclays Center to help them put together a superteam out of the blue.

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With the players in control, superteams have become the hot topic of the NBA. They’ve existed forever, but salary cap constraints have made them tougher to come by, that was until players got more control in determining where they play. And as a result, the NBA’s top stars have regularly been chatting with each other, gauging whether moving to another team with a couple stars could help them win a ring.

While other teams pounced on forming their superteam dreams, the Celtics stayed put in the final years of the Danny Ainge era, with more “almost trades” happening then one can count. It’s no surprise that Boston has struggled to get over the hump, making it to the Eastern Conference Finals three times in the last five years but always failing to reach the Finals.

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It’s clear that as long as they have Tatum and Brown, the Celtics will have championship aspirations. It also became abundantly clear this past season that they can’t win a championship on their own. That’s why Tatum’s presence on Team USA’s roster is so important. In a time where superteams are all the hype, Tatum should be using this time to try and actively recruit another star to the Celtics, and build a superteam of his own in Boston.

Think about all the players on this roster that could be up for grabs. Kevin Love, Jerami Grant, and Zach LaVine all just finished seasons with teams that failed to make the playoffs. If their teams decide to blow things up and launch a full scale rebuild, they will most certainly be up for grabs.

Tatum has already been seen chatting up Bam Adebayo, and with the Miami Heat wrapping up a disappointing season themselves, maybe they look to move Adebayo. Tatum and longtime friend Bradley Beal have been spotted alongside each other constantly at practices, and continue to speak glowingly of each other when asked by the media. Despite the Washington Wizards hot finish to the season, Beal is set to hit free agency shortly, and Washington may look to move him beforehand.

Perhaps the most tantalizing name of them all is Damian Lillard. Lillard has been rumored to be upset with the way things have gone in Portland over the past couple of seasons, and has begun to doubt whether or not he can win a title with the Trail Blazers. Maybe Tatum can plant the seeds in his mind that will lead to him formally requesting a trade, and the Celtics set off the ultimate firework by making a move for him.

These situations are obviously far-fetched, but that’s the way the NBA works nowadays, and it’s not surprising that just an Instagram picture of Tatum and somebody else on the team sparks a wave of trade rumors.

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The bottom line is that the Boston Celtics need to make changes this offseason. The good news is they have already started, which has helped open up a number of different avenues this offseason could go.

The option that is most fun to fantasize about is making a move for another big star. If Tatum can plant some seeds during his time with Team USA, it’s not crazy to suggest something like that could happen this offseason. Tatum knows firsthand that this team as constructed isn’t good enough to win a championship, so it wouldn’t be a bad time for him to work some magic in Japan and recruit some reinforcements. The Boston Celtics championship hopes could depend on it.