When Marcus Smart publicly criticized his teammates Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum earlier in the season, Brad Stevens kept his demand that Smart and his Celtics teammates keep things above the plate and at home relatively diplomatic.
But the Celtics’ head of basketball operations wasn’t playing it cool with this latest round of shots on Tatum, his team’s biggest star.
In his weekly appearance Thursday on 98.5 “Toucher and Rich” at The Sports Hub, Stevens criticized anonymous comments said to have been made by the Eastern Conference assistant coach about Tatum’s perceived style and playing style.
“If you can’t write your name on it, don’t say it,” Stephens said in a more aggressive echo of his response to his team’s early season internal turmoil.
These latest criticisms of Tatum have emerged From an article by Tim Bontemps, ESPN NBA Expert, who spoke with league executives about their impressions of the Celtics and their uneven start to the 2021 season.
Although both Tatum and Brown took their share of the heat for what was seen as an inability to make the players around them better, one of the Eastern Conference executives reportedly took up a special issue with Tatum’s play.
“Jason Tatum is talking about Jason Tatum,” the anonymous source said. “I don’t think he cares about winning now, and if he does, it’s on his terms. He doesn’t want to score 15 and win. He wants to score 39 and win.”
Stevens described the quote as “pretty ridiculous, frankly.”
“There’s no way the assistant coach would put his name on that quote because, first of all, he wasn’t around Jason,” the coach said. “And secondly, Jason would kill him every time he played with him for the rest of his career. That’s how these guys are in this league.
“I already sent a note to one of the people I work with, ‘That’s stupid. “Just be around this guy every day. This guy loves to win. He just sits there with his feet in the ice bucket after every game we lose and looks desperate. This guy is competitive. I really know that. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Even compared to his usual early season struggles, Tatum had a tough few weeks to open this year with the Celtics.
His overall field goal percentage (39.7) and three point percentage (31.9) are the worst of his career to date, and his over-reliance on contested shots and lonely play It may be a factor.
But in the Celtics’ last two victories, Tatum pushed himself to the out-of-the-box, collecting 10 assists on Sunday against Toronto and adding 16 rebounds to 26 points in Wednesday night’s win over Philadelphia.
All-star striker Criticism has been admitted But he reasserted his focus on winning basketball games – something Stevens said no one should question.
“For me, that line was a joke because I’m around it every day,” Tatum’s former coach said. “You look at him, he’s playing, he’s available, he’s competitive, he’s got a lot more on his plate. He’s done more in his first five years in the league than most league games.”
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