At only 21-years-old, big things are expected out of Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. Although his numbers in his second NBA season were fairly similar to those he posted in his rookie year, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft is seen as a potential franchise cornerstone as he prepares to team up with recent acquisition Kemba Walker on a retooled Celtics lineup in the 2019-20 season. However, a new report suggests that one unspecified team was once interested in trading for Tatum, only for the organization to back out of the discussions because of the youngster’s “insane” asking price.
In a report published on Tuesday by Celtics Blog, Keith Smith detailed his observations on multiple Celtics players, as documented during NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas earlier this month. In his entry on Tatum, Smith quoted multiple unnamed team executives, who mostly had glowing praise for Tatum and defended him from critics who claim he took a “step back” in his sophomore NBA campaign. One of these executives also told a story about how his team had previously tried to acquire Tatum and why the trade ultimately fell through.
“We tried to get him. The price they asked was insane, as it should be. He’s going to be an All-Star. If his numbers were down, it’s only because no 19-year-old had been at that level before [during his rookie year].”
The executive further commended the Celtics for their then-recent acquisition of former Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker via free agency, while also referring to Tatum as “the franchise in Boston.”
After a rookie season where he averaged 13.9 points, five rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 80 games, Jayson Tatum’s numbers increased slightly in the 2018-19 season, as he produced 15.7 points, six rebounds, and 2.1 assists per outing in 79 games, per Basketball-Reference. His shooting figures, however, took a hit in his sophomore season, as the former Duke Blue Devils forward shot 45 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from beyond the three-point line. These are both decent figures, but were nonetheless lower than his rookie shooting percentages of 47.5 percent from the field and 43.4 percent from long range.
Commenting on the aforementioned Celtics Blog report, NBC Sports Boston wrote that it wasn’t surprising that the Celtics refused to trade Tatum to the unnamed rival team, as the organization reportedly had second thoughts about including him in a potential deal that would have allowed them to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. However, the publication added that Tatum appears to be primed for a breakout season in his third year, as Boston will be dealing with the losses of several key players who left via free agency, including guards Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier, forward Marcus Morris, and center Al Horford.