One day after rumors suggested that Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum might sit out next month’s resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season due to issues related to his contract, a new report seemed to clear things up, stressing that the 22-year-old has far more pressing concerns in the weeks leading up to the restart.
“Not true,” said one source, as quoted by NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely. “He’s concerned like every other player about returning to play. There’s a lot … going on in the world that players need to be more concerned about. But sitting out because of the contract? Hell no!”
The new update came on the heels of a report from New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy, who wrote on Tuesday that per a source, Tatum “has expressed reluctance” to take part in the season restart. As noted, this was supposedly because of concerns he might get injured, thus jeopardizing his chances of getting a maximum contract extension in the offseason.
According to an unnamed league executive who spoke to Blakely, all players run the risk of injuries each time they take part in a game, thus making it implausible for Tatum to cite such a reason for possibly sitting things out when the NBA returns to action, presumably next month.
“Players have more concerns with the reboot to the season; I get that. But I just don’t see guys sitting out games because they might get hurt. They run that risk every time they play the game.”
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On the other hand, it was also noted that the coronavirus pandemic might be one specific concern that Tatum has in mind as the Celtics prepare to join 21 other teams in the “bubble-like” setting of Orlando, Florida, for the season restart. According to another internal source, there is some uncertainty regarding the NBA’s plans to protect its players from contracting the virus as COVID-19 cases continue to add up in the city.
As shown on his Basketball-Reference player page, Tatum is in the middle of a career year for the Celtics in 2019-20, his third season in the league after being drafted third overall in 2017. The former Duke Blue Devils star, who played in his first All-Star Game earlier this year, is averaging 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 59 games as Boston’s starting power forward. He is also shooting 44.8 percent from the field, with 2.8 three-point shots made per game on a 39.8 percent clip from beyond the arc.
The pandemic is just one of multiple reasons why Tatum and other players are reportedly concerned about resuming the 2019-20 campaign. A number of players, including Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets and Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers, have cited the continued protests over systemic racism and police brutality as a reason to possibly sit out the restart.