Jayson Tatum immediately established himself with impressive performances from the time he set foot in the NBA. When they lost Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to injuries last season, Tatum was one of the players who stepped up and helped the Boston Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals, where they almost eliminated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, despite the superstar potential he has shown in his first two seasons in the league, Tatum’s future in Boston remains uncertain.
Unlike shooting guard Donovan Mitchell and Philadephia 76ers point guard/point forward Ben Simmons, who are considered as part of their teams’ long-term plans, the Celtics see Tatum as their best trade asset. According to Sopan Deb of The New York Times, Tatum’s overall performance in the 2018-19 NBA season will determine if the Celtics will succeed in acquiring All-Star center Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2019 NBA offseason.
“Tatum finds himself in an unusual spot, compared with fellow N.B.A. sophomores like Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons. The better Tatum plays, especially in this postseason, the more likely he is to be linked to trade rumors, particularly those involving Anthony Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans’ star who has requested a trade that could shift the competitive balance in the N.B.A.”
Jayson Tatum produced some of our best defensive numbers this season, and his contributions on that end continue to improve at the most important time of the year. https://t.co/QS80rmmTzp— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 17, 2019
Jayson Tatum has shown some improvements in his performance in his sophomore year. From his 13.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists last season, the 21-year-old small forward is now averaging 15.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. However, after an explosive rookie season, most people are definitely expecting more from Tatum. If he fails to “live up to the hype,” Deb believes the Pelicans are “more likely” to consider trading Anthony Davis to other NBA teams, particularly the Los Angeles Lakers.
“But if he cannot live up to the hype he created in last year’s playoffs — that is, if he becomes just another guard — the Pelicans may be more likely to accept a package from the Los Angeles Lakers or another team besides Boston.”
As of now, the Lakers are the only team in the league that can match the Celtics in terms of trade assets. Before the February NBA trade deadline, the Lakers offered their entire young core of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Ivica Zubac to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis. Though Magic Johnson is no longer the team’s president of basketball operations, the Lakers are still highly expected to go all-in for Davis next summer.
Aside from the Lakers and the Celtics, the Pelicans may also consider entering trade negotiations with the team who will land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.