The Boston Celtics selected Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 overall pick on Thursday night, a decision they may have made out of pure respect for Tatum’s game and fit.
Or because Josh Jackson blew them off.
The Kansas stud, who ended up going at No. 4 to the Phoenix Suns, cancelled his workout with the Celtics, which team president Danny Ainge now admits made him hot. Here’s what he told ESPN (via CBS Sports):
“Agents and players have all sorts of motivations to get to certain places, as we’ve seen in the past,” Ainge told ESPN. “Remember last year, Kris Dunn didn’t want to come here; we didn’t hold it against him. We felt like we were just taking the player that we wanted [in Jaylen Brown last year]. And I think the same thing this time. I don’t think we were trying to penalize Josh too much, but we didn’t get to see him or talk to him face-to-face.”
There was a clear motivation in skipping the workout for Jackson and his people. The Celtics have a ton of other wings in Jaylen Brown, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart. Jackson would have been fifth in the pecking order, entering his rookie year has commonly offered trade bait.
But if his decision influenced the Celtics’ thinking, it wasn’t a great deal. They traded down from No. 1 after the fact anyway, suggesting they always had an eye for Tatum, lending additional merit to the belief they drafted the player they wanted.
Might they had coveted a different player if Jackson worked out for them, though? We’ll never know.