Celtics Trade Rumors: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Split Doesn't Interest Boston

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 10, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20: Jaylen Brown #7 talks with Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics during the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2021 in New York City. The Knicks won 138-134. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics aren't prepared to pull the plug on the Jaylen Brown-Jayson Tatum partnership.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported the Celtics "have indicated to rival teams that they want to build around" Tatum and Brown and "have no interest to split up the two All-Star forwards right now."

In theory, the two should collectively be the cornerstones of Boston's future.

Tatum is a two-time All-Star who's averaging 25.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists this season. Brown made his first All-Star team in 2020-21 and has followed it up by posting 24.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

The Celtics don't face the looming threat of free agency either. Brown is signed through 2023-24, and Tatum's opt-out doesn't come into play until 2025-26.

But it's impossible to look past what's happening on the court.

Boston is 10th in the Eastern Conference, occupying the final play-in tournament place. After the team threw away a 25-point lead against the New York Knicks on Thursday, head coach Ime Udoka told reporters one issue could be "a lack of mental toughness to fight through those adverse times."

It feels like little has changed since the tumultuous 2018-19 season that preceded Kyrie Irving's departure. The Celtics continue to be less than the sum of their parts, making it fair to question how Tatum and Brown are setting the tone as the two best players.

Teammate Marcus Smart lamented in November how Boston's reliance on the pair might be hindering the offense.

"Every team knows we're trying to go to Jayson and Jaylen, and every team is programmed and studies to stop Jayson and Jaylen," Smart told reporters. "I think everybody's scouting report is to make those guys try to pass the ball. They don't want to pass the ball."

Bolstering the supporting cast around Brown and Tatum seems to be more straightforward than trading one of the two. A midseason trade makes even less sense given how much it would disrupt the franchise.

Should the Celtics' record fail to improve over the second half, though, it might be time for president of basketball operations Brad Stevens to make some difficult choices.