Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum revealed what his pitch was to star guard Damian Lillard in an interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Tuesday.
“Dame is someone I have a really great relationship with, known him for a long time,” Tatum said. “We played on Team USA together, won a gold medal, so somebody I talk to frequently. I told him Boston would love to have you if he ever considered it.”
The Blazers received big man Deandre Ayton as one of the main pieces in the deal, as well as Bucks All-Star guard Jrue Holiday.
Holiday was eventually sent to Boston by the Blazers for a package that included two draft picks, big man Robert Williams III and guard Malcolm Brogdon, who won the Sixth Man of the Year award last season.
Tatum revealed that while he reached out to Lillard, he wasn’t trying to change the seven-time All-Star’s mind.
“I wasn’t trying to change his mind,” Tatum said. “When someone has their mind made up, you have to respect it. We talk on FaceTime from time to time, so every once in a while I would tell him Boston is a great place if you didn’t know.”
Lillard will get the chance to compete for an NBA title alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, who won the NBA Finals together in the 2020-21 season over the Suns.
Tatum doesn’t hold any ill will towards Lillard for where he ended up in the trade market.
“People like what they like and that’s fair,” Tatum said. “If people want to go somewhere, you can’t be mad at him. Everyone is entitled to feel what they feel and they should be able to go where they want.”
Tatum and the Celtics have to be happy that they benefited from the Lillard trade by adding Holiday, who should help the team on defense after it traded away guard and former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart this offseason.
The Celtics have made the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the last four seasons, but they may have to go through Lillard and the Bucks to win the East this season.
Both teams should be in the conversation for an NBA title as long as they stay healthy, so it’s possible that Tatum gets to see firsthand why Lillard ended up where he did this offseason.