This past Tuesday, a bomb was dropped on Boston Celtics fans. The headline read “Sources: Celtics, Jaylen Brown Could Seek June Divorce if Team Falters.”
The article was written by Steve Bulpett — a deeply respected NBA journalist who has covered the Celtics and NBA since 1985. He recently moved over to Heavy.com and this was one of his first pieces on the site.
It received a lot of backlash on Twitter from angry Celtics fans and talking heads. Bulpett stopped by on the latest edition of Celtics Beat on CLNS Media to break down the article, as well as the situation with Brown and the Celtics.
He began by candidly discussing the way the piece was received by the general public and media:
“In terms of presentation of the story, have I thought about it a thousand times since it was posted? Sure… It’s up to me to make sure it gets read properly and, you know, there’s some question here whether I did it properly or not.”
Bulpett swiftly moved onto the actual meat of the article - the information on Brown’s status with the C’s.
“I’m talking to people across the league...but when you’re getting calls about Jaylen Brown - what kind of guy is, how is he to deal with... there’s a belief around the league that was communicated to me that Jaylen Brown might be available… When? Most likely, if at all, around the draft.”
The piece detailed a list of questions Bulpett was getting about Brown. He revealed that he was receiving a variety of calls from around the league, and the reason behind it was the potential that Brown could look to leave Boston.
Bulpett would move on to explain why this idea even came about. Unsurprisingly, it has to do with the poor play of the Celtics over the past two seasons.
“These people weren’t getting this idea out of nowhere, out of thin air, these teams around the league. And upon further investigation, there was a point where I think everyone will understand that everyone around the Celtics was terribly frustrated with this team and the way it was playing. That hero ball, the one-on-one stuff.”
While Bulpett’s job is to report the information his sources give him, that doesn’t mean he’s calling for the Celtics to make moves. In fact, he admitted that he believes that the pairing of Brown and Jayson Tatum should not only stay together but thrive.
“I think that these two guys, A: should want to stay together, and B: should flourish together. And C: the fact that they haven’t yet is mind-boggling to me, and trust me, it’s mind-boggling to people around the Celtics as well.”
However, the frustration of hovering around .500 has continued to linger. Bulpett doubled down on the fact that the team is frustrated, and it’s not just a one-person thing.
“It was put to me by a Celtics person -- there’s not a player on this team that hasn’t expressed his frustration at some point this year.”
Earlier this season, Marcus Smart called out Tatum and Brown for not passing the ball. Tatum has spoken about hearing the criticism during a multitude of his press conferences. Ime Udoka has been extremely critical of his players all year long. The frustration is clear.
But when it’s all said and done, Bulpett made sure to emphasize one point: this Celtics team wants to win.
“This is the point I was trying to get across is that there is an urgency to what’s happening right now. These guys want to be here and want to be Boston Celtics, and they’re going to watch Kevin Garnett’s number get retired and they want to have that kind of success and be attached to a premier franchise in the sport they play. But if it’s not going to work they don’t want to be, no one wants to be stuck in this situation.”
The idea of a “June Divorce” is not something the team is desperately seeking out. They want to win in Boston and they want to win together. But, as Bulpett stated, no one wants to be in a losing situation.
Bulpett finished off his explanation by pointing toward ownership and the franchise’s history. The Celtics are not, and never plan to be a losing franchise. Bulpett made sure to underline that short leash.
“Particularly, ownership, patience is not going to be strong if this team isn’t showing signs. This ownership didn’t get to be this ownership, this franchise didn’t get to be this franchise, by saying ‘yeah we’ll just kind of roll along with this here.’ They make moves. They don’t just sit tight if things aren’t going the way that they want. And the definition of success in Boston is is quite different than the definition of success in a lot of other NBA cities.”