Jayson Tatum was locked in on Saturday afternoon at Cox Pavillion, except he wasn’t suited up. Instead, Tatum watched as a spectator as the Boston Celtics kicked off their Summer League play.
As the Summer Celtics nailed difficult, pull-up 3-pointers and dished out no-look, flashy passes (thank you, Trevion Williams), Tatum was attentive and engaged. He jumped out of his seat during highlight moments. He jogged down the court during heat checks. He was having fun.
Next to Tatum were Brad Stevens and Ime Udoka, the masterminds behind the Celtics’ success last season. The vibes were very, very strong. The mood was relaxed and chill among the Celtics most important figures: Stevens, Udoka, and yes, Tatum. And that’s pretty important for an organization that was two wins away from a championship.
But make no mistake, that coveted championship loss was still on Tatum’s mind despite all the theatrics he displayed on the sideline. “I still think about it every day,” he said.
Tatum’s mind isn’t only on The Finals defeat, he’s also thrilled about the acquisitions of Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. And for those wondering, Tatum did in fact reach out to both Brogdon and Gallinari via text to welcome them to Boston.
According to Tatum, Stevens was communicative with him throughout the offseason about the Celtics’ direction, which is certainly music to my ears. Tatum and Stevens even discussed potential free agent acquisitions. Tatum is the Celtics’ superstar. Including him in the organizational direction of the franchise showcases why he’s so important to the team, which I’m sure Tatum appreciates.
Now, here’s the big quote that will elevate the spirits of Celtics fans: “I’m invested in being with the Celtics.” Tatum’s mindset is clear: he wants to be in Boston, and he wants to win a championship in Boston. He indicated the same for Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.
"I'm invested in being with the Celtics. Myself, JB, Smart, whoever it is, giving our input in who can help us get over the hump next year, things like that." - @jaytatum0 on the nature of his conversations with Brad Stevens prior to free agency this year. pic.twitter.com/AMQovgN6JU— A. Sherrod Blakely (@ASherrodblakely) July 9, 2022
It’s evident that Tatum is already excited for next season, but it’s also evident that the pain of losing in the championship series will be with Tatum for quite some time. The only way to remove it? Get there again, and finish this time.
For now, Tatum’s intent is enjoying the offseason and maybe catching some more Summer League games. Soon, Tatum’s intent will be leading his team to a title. Poised, relaxed, and mature — for now. Ready to go — soon.