BOSTON – You can add Jayson Tatum to the list of folks who were shocked by the news that four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving was coming to Boston.
The Celtics engineered a trade with Cleveland Tuesday night that sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the rights to Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick, to the Cavs for Irving.
“I was just as surprised as everyone else,” Tatum told reporters on Wednesday. “I saw my name come up. I didn’t know if I was going to get traded.”
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When Boston and Cleveland talked earlier about a possible trade, the Cavs had indicated they wanted to do a deal but wanted Tatum included, according to a league source.
The Celtics refused, which led to the Cavs trying to pursue a deal with teams out West.
When that didn’t pan out, sources said they re-ignited talks with Boston who remained committed to getting a deal done that would not involve Tatum, who was selected with the third overall pick by Boston in the NBA draft.
While most of the Celtics will spend the coming weeks getting to know Irving, that’s one area where the 19-year-old Tatum is ahead of the game relative to his older, more seasoned teammates.
Both he and Irving left Duke after just one season – Irving in 2011, Tatum in June of this year. In addition, the two are also represented by the same agent.
It doesn’t end there.
Both were in the Bahamas vacationing together this summer, although Tatum said the two had no idea at the time that they would soon become teammates.
Tatum acknowledged that the two are close, and credits Irving for jump-starting the run of Duke players who left after just one season which includes himself, Harry Giles (first round, 20th overall) and Frank Jackson (second round, 31st overall) this year, as well as top 10 picks Austin Rivers (2012), Jabari Parker (2014), Jahlil Okafor (2015) and Brandon Ingram (2016)
“He definitely started that wave of one-and-done guys at Duke,” Tatum said.
Spending time with Irving and talking with him, that’s one thing.
Playing with him?
“I’m pretty sure it’ll be a lot of fun,” Tatum said. “He’s a tremendous player, a superstar in this league.”