As if Suns fans need any more PTSD when it comes to the draft in the late-2010s, Jayson Tatum added fuel to the fire on the latest episode of All the Smoke with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, saying during his visit to Phoenix with Earl Watson and the front office, he was completely sold on joining the Suns.
So much so, in fact, that Tatum was reticent to even buy into the draft-week trade that put Boston in position to draft him. Tatum dreamt of the nice winter weather and sizable homes, a place where he could put his family up, play under then-head coach Earl Watson, and partner with Devin Booker at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
“I’m sitting in (Watson’s) car and I’m like this sounds good, I think I want to come here,” Tatum said.
Then Tatum said he got back to his hotel after meeting with Watson and got a call from his agent detailing the trade-back the Celtics were about to pull off to draft him. Tatum was supposed to fly out the next day to work out in Boston for one last look from the Celtics’ front office.
Tatum told his agent, “Nah, I don’t want to go to Boston, I like it out here in Phoenix. It’s cool, the weather’s nice, I get a pool, my mom’s going to be alright.”
His agent had to convince him that the Celtics were a good option. Tatum slept on it, determined not to agree to the workout.
Where this all fell apart was when Coach K, Tatum’s Duke coach, called Tatum and encouraged him to explore the opportunity with Boston. Tatum reluctantly agreed, thoroughly impressed the Celtics at the workout, and ended up in Boston. The Suns, of course, drafted Josh Jackson, who they were equally excited about, but who of course did not pan out and is no longer on the roster.
Could things be different if the Suns had done a full workout with Tatum rather than just dinner and a meeting? Maybe that would have made them more aggressive about getting into position to draft him. Boston reportedly was really high on Jackson as well, so maybe they switch places if things play out differently. And it seems like if Coach K had just minded his own business, Tatum might be a Sun right now regardless.
The next time you see highlights of Tatum’s breakout this year, think of how nice they would look if he was in purple and orange. And try not to cry.