BOSTON (CBS) -- It appears the Celtics are finally turning things around, playing the brand of basketball the team has wanted all season. So now would be a great time for another report to surface about breaking up the team's promising young duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
This latest breakup won't happen at the trade deadline next week, but in the offseason around the draft. And it could come at the request of Brown.
Steve Bulpett, now at Heavy.com after a long stint as a Celtics beat reporter, wrote Tuesday that multiple sources have told him that "absent the team getting its act together and playing more to its potential, Brown could be the one to acknowledge that the mix isn't right and seek a move."
The Celtics are not shopping Brown ahead of the Feb. 10 trade deadline, but they are listening to all offers coming their way. Boston, sitting two games above .500 and in the play-in section of the East standings, isn't really in a position to hang up on anyone, and should be taking all calls just in case anything appealing crosses Brad Stevens' desk.
Opposing teams are aware that they would "have to give up A LOT" for the 25-year-old swingman, who is averaging 24.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists this season. But teams have been calling for some intel on Brown, according to Bulpett, inquiring on his development and trying to determine if Brown is at the center of the Celtics' problems. One coach detailed Brown's frustrations with the team when things are not going well, and it mostly centers on Tatum holding onto the ball too much.
"But when it was going bad, it was really hard to watch. It seemed like Brown was feeding off Tatum holding it. Like, Brown goes, 'Ah, screw it. Tatum's held it three straight times. Now if I get the ball, I'm shooting no matter what.' That just kills what you're trying to do as a team. You can see it happening," the anonymous coach told Bulpett. "But if they can get it together and start playing the right way, I mean, no one denies the talent that's there."
This report will certainly send some ripples through the NBA and the Celtics. But it is also coming from opposing executives and coaches, some of whom probably want a shot at acquiring Brown. Bulpett is extremely plugged in with Celtics and NBA sources, and he's particularly close to a certain Utah Jazz exec who is a pretty big fan of Brown's after drafting him third overall in 2016.
This could very well be Danny Ainge messing with his old franchise and making life a little more difficult for his old pal Stevens. Ainge loves to play his front office games just as much as he loved to pester opponents during his playing days. This isn't throwing a basketball off anyone's face, but it will certainly sting.
But until the Celtics become something other than a middling Eastern Conference team stuck in NBA purgatory -- not good enough to compete for a title and not bad enough to get a high draft pick -- stories about breaking up their young mix are going to continue to come out.
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