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Celtics should not separate Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, says Dwyane Wade

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have each said they want to work together to bring the Celtics back to an Eastern Conference power.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Put all-time great Dwyane Wade on the list of those who believe the Celtics shouldn’t separate Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

Wade would know about pairing with great players. He played with Shaquille O’Neal in his early years with Miami after O’Neal was acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers and they won a title in 2006.

Four years later, the Heat signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh and they teamed with Wade to win consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013. Each player had to sacrifice part of their games to mesh with the others, and it’s a similar situation in Boston, where Brown and Tatum are flourishing into elite players while trying to improve their playmaking and selflessness.


“You’re talking to someone who’s done it all, who’s played every role possible,” said Wade, now part owner of the Utah Jazz and a Turner Network analyst. “So I’m going to be a little biased but it’s not hard if it’s what you want to do. But we’re talking about young players and they’re growing into themselves.

“Jayson Tatum has been blossoming into a young superstar in front of our eyes and Jaylen Brown has been ‘Hold on, wait, don’t forget about me.’ ”

Wade said he believes Brown, 25, and Tatum, 23, still need more time to learn these roles despite their early success. The Celtics have made them their centerpieces with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Kemba Walker exiting.

““They’re trying to learn how to win in one of the toughest cities to win in that demands championships, that demands success, and they’re trying to figure it out,” Wade said. “That’s the beauty of it, it’s the journey for both of those guys. It’s hard for anybody in any sport to have the similar kind of style of similar games and to be told that someone has to sacrifice.”


Tatum and Brown have each said they want to work together to return the Celtics to Eastern Conference prominence. The Celtics have hovered around .500 for the past year and a half and have been one of the league’s underachieving teams this season.

How can the Celtics get the best out of their two All-Star wings?Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

“Who is it going to be [to sacrifice]?” Wade said. “And you talk about young guys, that’s tough. We have to allow these guys to come into their own and we have to allow them to learn how to lose and learn how to win, together. We’ve been watching. We want so much from them because they went to the [conference] finals very early in their young career but they’re still learning how to play basketball at a high level.

“When you’re a team and you have that kind of talent, you find a way to make sure that talent continues to work together because you can’t just go out and find a Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. I like the fact they’re trying to figure it out together.”

Wade’s former team, the Heat, has emerged as a favorite in the East despite a slew of injuries and COVID-19 protocols. Miami has yet to play a long stretch with a healthy lineup but is near the top of the conference, led by veterans Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, along with Kyle Lowry and an improving Tyler Herro.

“Obviously, the Milwaukee Bucks, who they are, they’re defending champions, and we know how it goes, you don’t put nobody over the defending champions until you dethrone the defending champions,” Wade said. “Definitely Milwaukee is the team that you have to continue to keep your eyes on, no matter the record.


“But the Heat have shown with Jimmy, without Jimmy, with Bam, without Bam, with Kyle, without Kyle, they’re for real. I feel that this team is a great mix of young players and the right mix of players who are young but have been around and they have leadership like Jimmy and Kyle. They have it all. It’s going to be very interesting when it comes down to it, who gets what matchups and who gets to the Eastern Conference finals.”

Miami was eliminated in the first round last year by the Bucks, but then acquired Lowry and P.J. Tucker.

“This is a team who was just in the Finals in one of the hardest seasons we’ve ever watched,” Wade said. “A lot of people look at the Bubble and you forget how hard that was. This team looks to me like the Miami Heat culture and the league got their eyes on. With health and the coach of the year over [Erik Spoelstra] there, I think they’ve got the opportunity.”

And finally, Wade commented on his close friend and all-time great James, who continues his ascension toward legend status at age 37. James always will be compared with Michael Jordan and Wade was asked whether he believes James is chasing Jordan’s shadow.


“It’s not really a conversation we’ve had about the chase of being one of the GOATS,” Wade said. “He’s at a different level. For LeBron, he’s a kid from the inner city of Akron.

“This is an opportunity for him to continue to write his own legacy and I think the further and further you get away from the idea of it being one GOAT and just worry about the body of work you put in, you walk away satisfied with your career, so I think LeBron will walk away very satisfied and wherever he falls, he falls. I think he’s put together an incredible, incredible resume.”


76ers could use help, and Simmons is a trade chip

The Ben Simmons headache drags on for the 76ers.Matt Rourke/Associated Press

We have heard about the Ben Simmons saga for months and the point guard and the Philadelphia 76ers appear no closer to a resolution than in the summer, when he declared he would never again play for the club. Simmons’s trade value wavers because it’s uncertain whether he’s in shape, ready to return to the NBA mentally and physically, or worked on his offensive weaknesses. Philadelphia general manager Daryl Morey said the club is in no hurry to move Simmons before the Feb. 10 deadline.

But that leads to another issue. The 76ers are playing well, have a chance to win the Eastern Conference with All-Star center Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level, and could use another primary contributor to overcome the likes of Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Miami. There has been an increasing push for Morey to add to the roster but he wants more than what other teams are offering for Simmons. Will Morey’s stubbornness hinder Philadelphia’s title chances? And how will that impact Embiid, who can’t be happy the team has made zero moves when he is carrying the franchise on his back.


The 76ers are another shooter/swingman away from making a deep playoff run and it may be time for Morey to act. Meanwhile, Simmons continues to be paid and has three more years left on his rookie maximum extension. Feb. 10 could get interesting in Philadelphia.

s who could be moved by next week, and there are intriguing names on this list, especially for the Celtics. Let’s look at seven players who are available and could be had by the deadline.

Terrence Ross, Orlando

The Celtics probably should give up three first-round picks and partial franchise ownership to Ross to bring him to Boston (Just kidding). The athletic swingman has punished the Celtics over the years and would be a perfect bench addition to take scoring pressure off Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. As with a lot of these available players, the question is asking price. The Magic will want a first-round pick for Ross, who has one more year ($11.5 million) on a relatively bargain deal. Do the Celtics offer a prospect such as Romeo Langford along with a first-round pick and a trade exception for Ross? Will the Magic demand something more? There will be several suitors for Ross because of his athleticism and ability to score in bunches. It’s been years since Ross has been in a winning environment, and he could blossom if surrounded by better players.

Jerami Grant, Detroit

When he signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Pistons after playing brilliantly for the Nuggets in the NBA bubble, Grant was supposed to be the centerpiece of the franchise’s rebuild. The problem is, the Pistons have surrounded him with young talent but they continue to lose. That has prompted a change of plans for the franchise, which is looking to get assets for one of their best players and then build around Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey. Grant is in his prime and could be a major addition for a team with championship aspirations. But again, the question would be what would Detroit want in return. The Pistons have a slew of younger players. Draft picks are enticing for rebuilding teams, but the Pistons are not going to give Grant away. They’ll want a quality player or two in return along with a pick.

Buddy Hield, Sacramento

The Kings have to do something, don’t they? They looked horrible Wednesday against the Celtics, and again the club is underachieving considering its talent. Hield has a skill that every team wants: he’s an elite shooter. He was nearly moved to the Lakers on draft night for Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell but the Lakers backed out when they found out Russell Westbrook was available (think they have buyer’s remorse?). But the Kings have to make some moves to shake up the roster. Hield’s contract could be an issue because he is owed $21 million in 2022-23 and $19 million in 2023-24, meaning the Kings would have to take back a sizable contract in return and he doesn’t fit into the Celtics’ $17.1 million trade exception. But he should be available and would help a contender or could be a key part of a championship team. It’s time for Hield to get out of Sacramento.

Marvin Bagley, Sacramento

It never worked for Bagley in Sacramento. The moment he was drafted ahead of Luka Doncic and Trae Young, Bagley’s time as a King was doomed. He was removed from the rotation by former coach Luke Walton and has wanted out for months. What does a healthy and engaged Bagley bring to a team? He’s a talented big man with upside who may be stifled in Sacramento. He has one more year left on his contract after this season and could help a contender but is not likely ready for starting duties. It wouldn’t take much to get Bagley.

Caris LeVert, Indiana

Talk about a quality piece. LeVert dropped 52 points on the Celtics at TD Garden not long ago and the Pacers were considered shrewd for netting him in the James Harden deal. LeVert has been solid but the Pacers are looking to make major changes. LeVert is a scorer but not a premium shooter. The Pacers have tried putting him in a featured role but it hasn’t resulted in victories, and the development of rookie Chris Duarte has changed LeVert’s standing. First-round picks are enticing, but LeVert does not fit into the Celtics’ $17.1 million trade exception. He makes $17.5 million this season.

Eric Gordon, Houston

He seems like an ill fit in the Rockets’ rebuilding plan, but Gordon has been fully invested. He could be better suited coming off the bench for a playoff-caliber team. The Rockets would like a capable veteran and other assets for Gordon, who has another year left at $19.5 million. Gordon is having a sparkling season, shooting 50 percent from the field and 44.5 percent from the 3-point line. He plays about 29 minutes per game as mostly a starter but could flourish in a bench role. Premium shooters don’t come cheap and Gordon is one of the NBA’s best. The Rockets’ rebuilding plan would not be derailed by moving Gordon but they’ll want young assets in return to join Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.

Norman Powell, Portland

He’s a volume scorer in a secondary role and the Trail Blazers brought him back on a five-year, $90 million deal that increases every season. With four years remaining, Powell’s contract may be difficult to move, but Portland is in a transition phase. Damian Lillard likely won’t return this season and CJ McCollum could be offered in a potential Ben Simmons deal. Powell is the third option, at best, with young prospect Anfernee Simons emerging as a potential cornerstone. The good news for the Celtics is Powell does fit into their $17.1 million trade exception and the Blazers are looking for assets and trade chips, meaning he could be available. Is Powell’s next team willing to acquire a player with four years remaining on a deal? As years go by and the salary cap increases, that becomes less of a factor. It’s a major commitment, but could be worth it short term.


Carsen Edwards is finding his groove in Salt Lake City.Joe Buglewicz/Getty

Former Celtics guard Carsen Edwards is making an impact for G League Salt Lake, averaging 25.9 points on 39.7 percent shooting from the 3-point line in eight games. Edwards was traded by the Celtics this past summer to the Grizzlies, who waived Edwards without giving him a look. Edwards was supposed to be the pure scorer off the bench the Celtics sought since the days of Eddie House, but he couldn’t consistently get on the floor or make 3-pointers. The question is whether Edwards is a shooter or scorer. Salt Lake is a minus-9.3 with Edwards on the floor … There are issues in Washington with coach Wes Unseld Jr. and his playing rotations. The Wizards are now healthy after dealing with COVID-19 protocol, and Unseld is digging deep into his bench and playing as many as 11 players. Against the Celtics, Unseld gave 10 players considerable minutes but starting center Daniel Gafford played only 11 minutes and Montrezl Harrell, who burned the Celtics in both previous meetings, played only seven. Aaron Holiday, a key offseason acquisition, has been pulled from the rotation. That opens the question of whether the Wizards will move Harrell, Holiday, and others to make room for Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura. After the Wizards lost by 29 points to the Celtics, they gave up a 7-point lead in the final 35 seconds against the Clippers and lost on a Luke Kennard 3-pointer and free throw with 1.2 seconds left. After starting 10-3 and leading the Eastern Conference, the Wizards are 13-22 and have fallen to 10th. Unseld received kudos for his early work but now there’s uncertainty within the organization, especially with Bradley Beal’s impending free agency … Turner Sports hired Warriors forward Draymond Green to be an analyst for their NBA coverage. It’s a rare move because Green remains an active player but he has made appearances on “Inside the NBA” during the postseason and while the Warriors were in Atlanta. The move enhances TNT’s NBA coverage and the network continues to be the most popular one for the sport … Portland’s rising forward Nassir Little, who has turned into a staunch defender with length and 3-point ability, is likely out for the season after he sustained a shoulder injury in Wednesday’s loss to the Timberwolves.

Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him @GwashburnGlobe.