‘We’ve got more to do’: Jayson Tatum said he and Jaylen Brown are ‘eager’ to accomplish more things together

"I think we really took those next steps last season."

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown reached the NBA Finals for the first time last season. Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

A major storyline surrounding the Celtics for much of the last couple of years was if the Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown pairing could actually work.

In the first season with the young duo being the Celtics’ leading scorers, they finished the year at .500 and were a first-round exit (Brown was out with an injury, of course). More than halfway into the following season, there were still at .500, amplifying those concerns.

But things changed in the final months of the 2021-22 season, with Tatum emerging as a first-team All-NBA player and Brown proving to be a reliable All-Star-level player. The duo led the Celtics to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Warriors in six games.


Yet, there are still rumors of the two being split up. The Celtics reportedly offered Brown as part of a trade package for Nets star and two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant earlier in the offseason.

While there’s a chance Brown won’t be his teammate by the start of the season, Tatum is still focused on playing with his fellow young All-Star teammate as they enter Year 6 together. If the two stay together in Boston for the foreseeable future, it isn’t unreasonable to think they could win multiple titles and join other legends in Celtics lore.

Tatum said he and Brown aren’t thinking about their legacies. Rather, they’re focused on just getting better in hopes of making another run to the Finals.

“We just try to stay in the moment,” Tatum told NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Giles on Thursday. “It’s not necessarily about what our legacy would look like if we did this, that, and the third.

“Just trying to be the best versions of ourselves, the best players we can be, and compete at the highest level. I think we really took those next steps last season. We’d be the first to tell you that we’ve got more to do, more to accomplish. And we’re eager to do so.”


Tatum also took a shot at those who might have doubted the duo.

“Yeah, [we’re growing together],” Tatum said. “Despite all the people that said we couldn’t play together, we always believed that we could.”

When Tatum was first asked about a potential Brown-for-Durant trade a couple of days after reports came to light, he was a bit deferential, calling Durant “a great player” but noting “that’s not my decision” to make. Tatum made a point though to say, “I love our team. I love the guys that we got.”

Tatum wasn’t directly asked by Giles about the big trade rumor. He was asked though if he felt the Celtics could win the NBA Finals, and his answer remained consistent.

“What kind of competitor would I be if I said no? I always believe in myself and I always believe in my teammates,” Tatum said. “Obviously we got close — we got to Game 6. But we didn’t make it happen. This offseason, everything just about getting back to that point and getting over the hump. We added two great pieces that, I feel, make us a lot better and compliment our team extremely well.”

As Tatum mentioned, the Celtics made a pair of headlining moves this offseason. They traded for combo guard Malcolm Brogdon, who averaged 18.9 points and 6.3 assists per game over the last three seasons, from the Pacers and didn’t give up any major rotational pieces from their Finals run in the trade. They also signed veteran sharpshooting forward Danilo Gallinari.


The additions of Brogdon and Gallinari help fill what they believed were their two biggest weaknesses: 3-point shooting and playmaking. Prognosticators certainly feel the same way, with oddsmakers listing the Celtics as the favorite for the 2022-23 NBA title.


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