Report: Jayson Tatum held players-only meeting to address Jrue Holiday trade

Celtics

“There’s six of us. Only five can play at one time. One of us is not going to finish the game all the time.”

Jayson Tatum organized a meeting that could end up being a very vital to their playoff success. Michael Dwyer/AP Photo
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For as good as the Celtics have been this season — they have the best record in the NBA as of Wednesday — it’s possible that they would not have been as successful without one meeting.

A few weeks after the Celtics acquired Jrue Holiday, they found themselves in a bit of dilemma. The team had reportedly been planning to use a starting lineup of Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford before the trade, and adding Holiday to the group meant that someone who is capable of starting was going to have to be sent to the bench.

To address this issue, Tatum reportedly organized a players-only meeting with the five other potential starters in the team’s practice facility.

“I wanted us to get in the room and talk about it,” Tatum told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “We all are human and have feelings, and I opened the floor and basically said, ‘There’s six of us. Only five can play at one time. One of us is not going to finish the game all the time.’”

During the meeting, it appears as though Tatum and Brown were ruled out as candidates to take the bench, since the two have always been all but guaranteed to both start and finish games. That meant that one of the other four candidates would have to leave the starting lineup, a reality that person would have to accept.

“Whether it’s fair or not, me and [Brown] are probably going to always start, and always finish the game. But we have to be held to a different standard and be able to be coached differently. Whether it’s [Porzingis] and [Horford], one of you guys may not finish a game, and you have to be OK with that.”

In the end, Horford was that person. He has embraced being the sixth man for the Celtics and knows that doing so is the best way he can contribute on this current roster.

“I’ve always wanted to do whatever I could to help the team win,” Horford told Boston.com’s Khari Thompson. “And right now, this is where our group is at. For me at this moment, it’s to come in and bring a spark, bring energy off the bench, raise our level of play every time that I come in and have an impact defensively. My role is different now, and that’s something that I’m still adjusting to, but I’m still trying to make sure that I put my imprint and in every game that I play.”

According to Bontemps, the Celtics don’t believe that this meeting was the only reason they have been as dominant as they have been this season. But they do believe that the meeting served as a reminder that they all want to win a championship together, and that making sacrifices is necessary for that to happen.

And if that does happen, the Celtics might have that meeting to thank for it.

“I think, honestly, it was a very important moment for us,” Porzingis told Bontemps. “Just to kind of look each other in the eye, and know that we’re here for one job, and to understand that we’re all going to be willing to make some sacrifices.”


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