Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum watched with the same bated breath that much of New England did Tuesday night when he started seeing breaking news reports on television that his team was in serious trade talks for Kyrie Irving.
NORTHBRIDGE — Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum watched with the same bated breath that much of New England did Tuesday night when he started seeing breaking news reports on television that his team was in serious trade talks for Kyrie Irving.
He may have even held his breath for a second or two when some of the initial reports came through about which players the Celtics might have to give up to get the superstar point guard.
“I was just as surprised as everyone else,” he said. “I saw my name come up and I didn’t know if I was going to get traded.”
Ultimately, Tatum remained in Boston after the deal that sent two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas, starting forward Jae Crowder, rookie center Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s unprotected 2018 first-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the four-time All-Star. The deal was officially announced through a release from the Celtics at 8:37 p.m. but Tatum said he got a more personal confirmation from his fellow former Duke University standout.
“He texted me yesterday and told me he was coming,” Tatum said during an appearance to dedicate a backyard basketball court to the Keane family of Northbridge as part of the Celtics Home Court Makeover program. “He (sounded) excited during the text message that he was coming to Boston.”
Tatum has already received a crash course in the business of basketball both leading up to this past June’s draft and during an early evening of rumor swirling Tuesday night. He believed he was in the running to be the No. 1 overall pick after a strong workout with Boston in May before Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge traded that pick – which became consensus No. 1 player Markelle Fultz — to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 pick — which became Tatum — and a future first-rounder.
Yet, while he was theoretically involved in that trade, the talk Tuesday night was far more real.
“I just came from college so I don’t know how to handle all the trade talk,” he said. “I was just like ‘whoa’ when I saw my name come across the TV.
“It kind of makes you mature faster. It’s the nature of the game.”
Tatum called the Duke connection between Irving and himself “a brotherhood” — they are also represented by the same agency — and credited Irving with being the trailblazer in the one-and-done recent history with the Blue Devils that includes himself after his freshman campaign this past season.
“It was him, Austin Rivers, Jabari (Parker), Jahlil (Okafor), Brandon Ingram,” Tatum said. “Kyrie was really the first guy to do that.”
While Tatum allowed the loss of Thomas will be tough on the community and fanbase that embraced him over the past three years, he said he is looking forward to joining forces with Irving when training camp begins next month with only four players back from last year’s Eastern Conference finalist.
“I’m pretty sure it will be a lot of fun,” he said. “He’s a tremendous player. He’s a superstar in this league. I can learn a lot from him.”
Perhaps the biggest thing he can learn from the former NBA champion, Tatum conceded, is what he can’t yet understand.
“I don’t really know what it takes to put a team over the top because I haven’t played yet,” Tatum said when asked if Irving has what it takes to do just that for the Celtics. “I don’t know if I can answer that question. But he is a great player.”
Scott Souza can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter