Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 29: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics talks to Jaylen Brown #7 during the third quarter against the Miami Heat in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 29, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Now that the Celtics’ playoff run has come to an end, it’s onto the offseason. It will be a key offseason for the Celtics, who are still looking for their first title since 2008 and just their second since 1986.

At least early on, this Celtics offseason will likely focus on two key names – head coach Joe Mazzulla and forward Jaylen Brown.

  • Mazzulla took over as the Celtics head coach just days before training camp started, following the suspension and later parting of ways with Ime Udoka. It was an up-and-down year for the four-year Celtics assistant, as the team thrived early and he had the ‘interim’ tag removed from his title and received a contract extension at the All-Star Break, but faltered down the stretch.

    As the team struggled in the playoffs, some suggested a veteran coach may maximize this group better than the 34-year-old Johnston, RI product. Given the nature of the Celtics’ elimination – against an eight seed, a round earlier than the previous year, and while failing to hold their own situationally – some wondered if his job could be on the line after just one year.

    The other player is Brown, who the Celtics have to make a big decision on this offseason. Because he was named second-team All-NBA for the 2022-2023 season, he’s eligible for the $295 million supermax extension starting this summer. It’s a contract he can only receive from the Celtics.

    Brown didn’t help his case in the ECF, when he was more of a hinderance than a help for the majority of the games. Game 7 was particularly rough, with Brown recording as many turnovers (8) as made baskets (8). After the game, Brown himself described the performance by saying, “I failed.” That performance only added fuel to the idea that he and Jayson Tatum, who have been teammates comprising the Celtics’ ‘core’ for six of Brown’s seven NBA seasons, can’t play together at a championship level.

  • Despite all of that, both Mazzulla and Brown got significant shows of support from Tatum during his post-game press conference after Game 7. With Tatum looking like the player the Celtics will build around, that support could carry weight as the Celtics weigh their options moving forward.

    “It was his first year. We got to the Conference Finals Game 7. I don’t think people give him, us, enough credit,” Tatum said. “I think Joe did a great job. We won 50 some-odd games. We got to Game 7, Conference Finals. Obviously everybody can be better, learn from this, but I think Joe did a great job this year.”

  • Tatum also offered high praise for Brown and his ability, when asked how important he thinks it is for the team to extend him this offseason.

    “It’s extremely important,” he began. “He’s one of the best players in this league. Plays both ends of the ball and [is] still relatively young. He’s accomplished a lot so far in his career. So I think it’s extremely, extremely important.”

    How much the front office and ownership ends up listening to Tatum will be a question in its own right. But it seems like if he has a say, the Celtics’ changes this offseason will be on the margins rather than to the core of the team.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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