Celtics

Celtics need Tatum to become a no-questions-asked superstar in Year 3

Celtics need Tatum to become a no-questions-asked superstar in Year 3

A couple of things happened this week that made me think of Jayson Tatum. 

First, the Sixers signed Ben Simmons to a five-year max extension ahead of the final year of his rookie contract. Then, Bleacher Report put out its list of five breakout stars for the coming season, defined as players who had yet to become All-Stars but could in 2019-20. A command + F of "Tatum" yielded zero results. 

Both things should jump out at you with regard to Tatum. If he plays his cards (basketball) right, he's getting a contract like Simmons', either next summer or at the conclusion of his deal. 

But that list tells you at least some NBA observers don't see that happening, because that contract doesn't come unless Tatum ascends to the upper-echelon of NBA stars. We've assumed he would since his promising rookie season and subsequent playoff run, but Year 3 is the time for Tatum to actually start reaching for that ceiling. 

What if it doesn't happen? 

For starters, I'll cry myself to sleep every night, but this isn't about me. It's about the Celtics, who had one of the best players in the league and saw him mess up the team while he was here and the cap situation when he left. 

The Celtics more or less need Tatum to become that level of star, minus the headache. They need a peer for Kemba Walker, one who could even surpass the UConn product in the prime years of his career. 

That it didn't happen in Year 2 was frustrating. Tatum's points went up from 13.9 to 15.7 and his rebounds went from exactly five a game to six. Yet his player efficiency rating went down from 15.29 as a rookie to 15.13 in his second season, the latter of which ranked 138th in the league. The eye test didn't do major favors relative to expectations either, as his propensity for long 2s left everyone quick to angrily point to his offseason workouts with Kobe Bryant. 

In the end, Tatum's second year looked more like Jaylen Brown's second year than most probably anticipated. He scored more, but Tatum's .450 field goal percentage and .373 clip on 3s were lower than Brown's marks (.465, .393, respectively) in his second year. 

So, now the Celtics, having experienced a net loss of one star (Kyrie, Horford out; Kemba in), need another star. Ruling out Brown would be shortsighted, and I'm still not sure why so many have jumped ship completely on Gordon Hayward. 

Yet, Tatum is the one that seems like the sure thing, and it hasn't happened all the way yet. If he doesn't become an All-Star-caliber player this season, what was once considered the luxury of Brown and/or Hayward becoming great will become a necessity if the Celtics want to make any sort of noise this season. 

I think Tatum makes that step and becomes a fringe All-Star. Between his pedigree and his talent, it's seemingly within his grasp, but if he doesn't make that leap, it will hurt a hell of a lot more than it would had the Celtics been able to secure a multi-year commitment from Anthony Davis and/or Irving. 

That longterm plan took a big hit this summer. Tatum's the guy who can put it back on track. If he does and the Celtics find any frontcourt help, the Celtics can set themselves up to be one of the top teams in the East for years. If his development stalls, the C's could be looking at either continued roster shakeup or years in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. 

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WATCH: Belichick's classic answer to halftime question about Josh Gordon

WATCH: Belichick's classic answer to halftime question about Josh Gordon

Bill Belichick has left us with yet another hilarious interview bit.

At halftime of the New England Patriots' preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, Belichick was asked if he had anything to add to the statement he had released about Josh Gordon's return to the team. Gordon, who was reinstated by the NFL on Friday, is now eligible to join the Patriots.

However, Belichick gave a very short answer and didn't elaborate much in this comical exchange captured by Boston 25 News' Chad Amaral.

Instant classic.

In fairness, Belichick does have a point. There was a statement released earlier in the day. But given how quickly Gordon's return was announced, it was also fair to see if the coach had anything extra to add. Belichick just happened to be focused on the game, so he didn't want to talk about Gordon's reinstatement.

Gordon's addition could end up being big for the Patriots' receiving corps, so maybe Belichick will show him more love once he actually gets back onto the field.

CURRAN: Patriots are smart to manage Josh Gordon's expectations>>>

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Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca 'almost crashed his car' when he heard of Kemba's interest

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File Photo

Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca 'almost crashed his car' when he heard of Kemba's interest

This offseason, the Boston Celtics were in a state of flux. With the impending departures of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, it seemed that the team was entering a rebuilding phase in which they would have to build around their young talent.

Instead, the team was able to retool. That was largely thanks to Kemba Walker's interest in joining the team. Walker's interest surprised their co-owner, Steve Pagliuca, who shared how he reacted when he heard the news.

"I almost crashed my car when I heard that," Pagliuca said, per Nicole Yang of The Boston Globe.

It's easy to understand why Pagliuca was so surprised. Walker, who had spent his entire nine-year NBA career with the Charlotte Hornets, could've gotten a supermax to stay put with the Hornets. Instead, he wanted to join a winner and evidently was impressed with the Celtics.

Walker should be the perfect replacement for Kyrie Irving and should help to build better chemistry in a locker room that dealt with numerous issues last year. And Walker's addition plus the acquisition of rookies Grant Williams, Romeo Langford, Carsen Edwards, and Tremont Waters has done a lot to transform the Celtics' personality, as Pagliuca noted.

"There’s just really a positive attitude from everybody this year," Pagliuca said, per Yang. "We’ve got a bunch of hard-working players that really want to achieve. We couldn’t ask for anything more."

After last season, that should be refreshing to Celtics fans, especially if they can stay competitive in what should be a wide-open Eastern Conference outside of the favored No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks.

BLAKELY: It's time to make Marcus Smart captain of the C's>>>

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