Young Celtics handling Anthony Davis trade talk well; Lakers' young crew? Not so much


BOSTON -- No matter where the teams are in the standings, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers facing one another is always a must-see matchup.

While a lot of the hype and hoopla centers around the two franchises' storied past, Thursday night’s matchup has more to do with the fate of each respective team’s future.

Specifically, who will win the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, which has had the Celtics and Lakers at the head of the pack from Day One for different reasons.

The Lakers have been the preferred destination for Davis and his camp, while the Celtics have been the one team with the deepest pockets in terms of assets they could offer.

But as much as the talk the past couple weeks has centered around Davis and his potential landing spot, both of these teams have a potentially bigger issue to worry about.


The rosters for both teams are fueled heavily by young talent, the kind of talent that doesn’t always respond well to trade rumors.

We just saw the Lakers suffer one of the worst losses in franchise history and the worst of LeBron James’ 16-year career, to an Indiana Pacers team playing without their best player (Victor Oladipo) who is out for the season.

At one point, Pacers fans serenaded Brandon Ingram with chants of ‘LeBron’s gonna trade you!” as Indiana pummeled the Lakers 136-94.

And if the trade deadline comes and goes with Davis still in New Orleans, the challenge facing the Lakers’ youthful talent to be productive will only increase in degree of difficulty.

Closer to home, Boston has a roster full of players who will also have to tune out the white noise that comes about with potentially being traded.


But in many respects, it’s even worse for Boston’s young players.

Because of the Rose Rule, Boston can’t swing a deal for Anthony Davis until July 1 at the earliest.

That means the potential trade talk involving Celtics players will continue throughout the rest of the season and into the early stages of the summer.

Without question, the player who will be dealing with this more than anyone else, is Jayson Tatum.

From the moment Davis declared he wanted out of New Orleans and the Celtics were seen as one of the early favorites, it was viewed as a given that the Pelicans would insist on having Tatum included in such a deal.


Selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft, Tatum was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team and has been selected to play in the NBA All-Star Weekend’s Rising Stars game each of the last two seasons.

He is seen by many as a potential All-Star, the kind of player you are reluctant to part ways with… unless he stands between you landing perennial All-Star Anthony Davis.

I asked Tatum recently about the trade rumors surrounding Davis with the knowledge that if the Celtics get a deal done, would likely include him being traded to New Orleans.

“My job is to control what I can control,” Tatum said. “I can’t control what happens, so I focus on today and just play the game and see what happens.”

Since Davis’ trade request went public on Jan. 28, Tatum’s numbers have taken a slight dip, but not enough of a slide to where you can infer it has anything to do with the Davis rumors.


In those five games, Tatum has averaged 15 points per game along with six rebounds and 1.8 blocks while connecting on 46.7 percent of his shots from the field.

Another young Celtic mentioned as potentially being part of a Davis trade, Jaylen Brown, has been playing some of his best basketball of the season since the Davis rumors took flight.

In Boston’s last five games, he has averaged 16.2 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 34.8 percent on 3’s.

Regardless of how the Davis situation works out, worst-case scenario for the Celtics is that they have a pair of young, talented players who are learning how to deal with trade rumors and still impact the game in a positive way which is evident by Boston having won all five games they have played since the Davis rumors gained steam last month.

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