Celtics' Jayson Tatum says he's OK with coming off the bench this season: 'I just care about winning'
With Gordon Hayward's expected return, one of the Celtics' starters from last season will have to move back to the bench
The Boston Celtics have a very deep roster heading into this upcoming season, which is mainly a very good thing. More talent leads to more wins, which leads to a greater chance of competing for a title. Pretty simple. However, it can potentially lead to a bit of a problem in terms of managing playing time and egos.
For example, following Gordon Hayward's injury, the team settled into a nice starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Aron Baynes. Now with Hayward expected to be healthy, one of those players has to move to the bench. Most likely it will be Baynes, but then that results in a smaller lineup, with Horford playing a bit out of position at the five, something he's not fond of doing for long stretches.
Another possible -- though unlikely -- scenario, is that Hayward simply slots in for one of Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, moving them back to the bench. If it does come down to that, Tatum says he'll be OK. In a recent interview, he said he trusts Brad Stevens, and it doesn't matter if he starts or not. He just wants to help his team win. Via Boston.com:
Currently in Los Angeles, Tatum will continue working out before training camp begins in September. He said he is not concerned about forthcoming decisions regarding playing time, expressing the utmost faith in Stevens to do what's right for the team. He also trusts his teammates to handle the situation in stride.
"Everybody has a job to do," he said. "Our job is to be the best versions of ourselves and come together for a bigger goal, which is winning a championship. Brad's job is to manage playing time and manage all sorts of stuff. That's why he's the coach. We got a bunch of selfless guys on the team that just want to win. We'll figure it out."
Tatum said it does not matter to him whether he starts or comes off the bench.
"I understand how deep our team is," he said. "I just care about winning and doing what I can while I'm on the floor."
Given how well he played last season, it's almost impossible to see Tatum moving to the bench, even if that might be the most natural move. Plus, even though he said he'd be fine coming off the bench, there's no doubt that Tatum would prefer to remain a starter. The guy dunked on LeBron James in the Eastern Conference finals; it's tough to go back to being a reserve after that.
But really, figuring out the starters might turn out to be the easiest problem for Stevens to solve. He'll then have to figure out how to effectively manage rotations and getting nine or 10 guys playing time and opportunities on a nightly basis. That won't be an easy task, even for someone players seem to love playing for.
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