BOSTON (CBS) — This certainly isn’t the news Celtics fans want to hear with the NBA set to return to action in a few weeks. When the Celtics resume the season down in Orlando, they may be without rising star Jayson Tatum.
Tatum’s continued ascension to superstar status is one of the many storylines Celtics fans are eagerly waiting to play out when the NBA resumes action next month. But Tatum is reportedly among a small group of NBA players who are expressing some concern over the league’s return-to-play plan, and is reluctant to risk his health when the season tips off again, according to the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy.
UPDATE: Tatum is NOT considering skipping the NBA return, according to NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely.
“Then there’s the threat of injury, which is especially significant to players on the verge of big contracts. According to a source, Boston Celtics’ forward Jayson Tatum, who is eligible for a max extension in the offseason, has expressed reluctance to play for that reason,” Bondy wrote.
That would be one gigantic bummer in a four-month stretch that has been filled with quite a few of them.
Tatum was reportedly part of the group of young NBA players who are set to get sign big money extensions in the near future who reached out to the NBA Players Association about potentially getting an insurance policy to protect them against career-threatening injuries during the “bubble season” in Orlando, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. There’s also reportedly been a push to let those players sign their extensions now before the season resumes rather than waiting for the offseason, according to Keith Smith.
But the Bondy report makes it much clearer that Tatum is apprehensive about being stuck in Orlando for three straight months amid the coronavirus pandemic. With a two-year-old son at home, plus Florida being one of the coronavirus hot spots at the moment, that’s an understandable stance from Tatum. Disappointing for Celtics fans, but understandable.
The NBA is set to resume play at the end of July, bringing 22 teams to Disney World to complete the regular season and playoffs. The Celtics are currently sitting as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference thanks in large part to Tatum’s breakout season, with the 22-year-old averaging a career-best 23.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game and knocking down 45 percent of his shots from the floor.
Everyone is eager to see what the first time All-Star can do in the playoffs, but now we may not get that opportunity. The NBA and Players Union have agreed that any player who is uncomfortable with the league’s restart plans can opt out of playing without breaching their contract. Players need to let their teams know their intentions by next week.