What Jayson Tatum joining team USA could mean for the Celtics’ future
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It’s no secret the Jayson Tatum will be suiting up for team USA for this summers Olympics in Japan. Also no mystery, Jayson’s good pal Bradley Beal will be lacing ‘em up right there with him. USA basketball will could have impacts on this Boston core in more ways than one.
First, new Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was an assistant coach on the FIBA team in the summer of 2019 World Cup. Just to remind everyone, that team wildly underperformed so it’s not as if Udoka inspired any magic during that run. However it is a huge factor given that the Jay’s and Marcus all signed off and seemed as though they actually pushed for their USA assistant to take the wheel. Though Udoka was Pop’s longtime assistant and player in San Antonio as well as on that team USA, he is not listed on the current teams Olympic roster. This summer’s assistants are Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, and Jay Wright.
Secondly, as noted earlier, Tatums childhood babysitter (apparently) Bradley Beal will be sharing a jersey with Jayson for just the second time after their all-star team-up earlier this season. The hope for all Celtics fans is that Jayson can lure his friend to Boston and not the other way around. I won’t even type those words and put that out into the world. While courting his buddy, hopefully Jayson keeps in mind that Boston can sign him via free agency next offseason if he opts out of his contract following the season. The Celtics do not want to have to fork over a quality assets such as Marcus Smart or Jaylen Brown to acquire the Washington scoring machine. If this off-season goes according to plan, Boston should be able to create a max contract slot by trading guys like Al Horford or Evan Fournier (if he re-signs). If Brad can manage to form a core of Jayson, Jaylen, Beal, and Rob Williams, that team can compete for championships for multiple years if they can work together.
Thirdly, to a lesser degree, Dame is in a similar situation as Beal. He’ll be teaming up with Jayson Tatum in Tokyo and supposedly was “in contact” with the Celtics star regarding teaming up for USA so perhaps they are close. Same however, is under contract for multiple more years and would require a large haul to acquire and almost certainly Jaylen Brown would be needed to get any deal for him done. A deal like that I’m not sure makes Boston all that much better situated. In that case, now you’ve got two elite scorers (again) but one’s timeline has now been advanced five years (Jaylen is only 25, Dame is 30). The window for winning has now shrunken and therefore the pressure rises. In that case, each year is nearly win or bust from a fan point of view and unless they can find a third star another way, that team is in no way a lock to win anything.
One thing I am very much looking forward to seeing in the Olympic Games is how much they’ll allow Jayson to use his playmaking. Tatum gets flack for lack of playmaking at times but became much better this season even after if the numbers don’t totally back that up. Watch the tape and you’ll see he’s got tremendous vision across the court and through the defense. He possesses one of the best skip passes in the game but was tossing them to Semi and Grant instead of guys like Joe Harris or Duncan Robinson. If they allow him to be on ball a decent amount, he could showcase that skill that he wasn’t really able to show with the Celtics.
Team USA begins training camp on July 6th and will have their first exhibition on July 10th against Nigeria in Vegas.