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Jayson Tatum wanted to skip Boston workout, play for Phoenix Suns

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives against Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on December 19, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum said in a podcast that he originally would’ve preferred to get drafted by the Phoenix Suns and play for then-head coach Earl Watson.

Tatum, who was drafted in 2017 third overall by the Boston Celtics, has gone on to be an All-Star and averaged 23.6 points per game last year. The Suns were set to pick right after that at fourth overall, and during the pre-draft process, the tides nearly turned a different way as Tatum wanted to skip a workout with Boston and get drafted by Phoenix.

“Earl [Watson’s] my guy. I went to dinner with him,” Tatum told Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson’s All the Smoke podcast. “The next day, I remember he picked me up, he had a white [Mercedes-Benz] G Wagon, he drove me around and showed me like all the houses where the players live at.

“I called my fam, my mom, I’m like, ‘Yo, I think I want to go to Phoenix.’ Earl Watson, he’s like, ‘You come to Phoenix, you and D-Book, two light-skinned killers, I’mma let y’all rock out,'” Tatum said. “I’m sitting in the car, like, ‘This sounds good! I think I want to come here.'”

After the meeting with Phoenix, Tatum said he went back to his hotel and got ready to fly back home when his agent called him, telling him that Boston GM Danny Ainge wanted him to fly out for a workout the next day.

“I’m like, ‘No, I don’t want to go to Boston, I like it out here in Phoenix, it’s cool,’ Tatum said. “‘The weather’s nice, I get a big house, I get a pool, my mom’s going to be alright.’ He’s like, ‘Brad Stevens a great young coach and they’ve got a great history.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not trying to hear that, I want to go to Phoenix.’ So then my agent was like, just think about it.”

Tatum’s head coach at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski, called him thereafter and convinced him to do the workout with Boston.

“So I’m like, ‘Ugh, alright.’ So I go,” Tatum said.

Meanwhile, Ainge had flown from Boston to Sacramento to scout Josh Jackson, who canceled his workout with the Celtics mid-flight. Ainge, who comedically complained that “there’s nothing to do in Sacramento,” had to return home after his pointless cross-country flight.

Perhaps the Celtics would’ve instead taken Jackson had they been able to scout him, but they went with Tatum. Jackson fell to fourth overall, and the two career arcs are dramatically different. While Tatum has been successful in Boston, on- and off-court disappointments for Jackson led to him getting shipped to Memphis in a trade last summer. He only got in 18 NBA games this past season.

Watson took to Twitter to add more context from his end.

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