Devin Booker should be furious. Suns fans should be hoping new economic pressure convinces Robert Sarver to sell. Jayson Tatum should be thanking his lucky stars he's in Boston.
As for Earl Watson? I'm just glad he's honest.
"So much more to this story but basically Sarver said NO.... The end," Watson said on Twitter - in response to Jayson Tatum's saying he preferred to be chosen by the Suns rather than the Celtics.
Tatum wanted to go to Phoenix so bad, he told his agent he had no interest in Boston.
"I was pushing Tatum. Like, we had to move up for Tatum, we had to get Tatum. And ownership chose Josh Jackson." Watson told the Athletic's Jay King, before revealing that Sarver thought Tatum was "another Devin Booker," and that their skillsets were too closely aligned.
Imagine you're Earl Watson, a 14-year NBA player, 4-year coach, and Robert Sarver - a banking magnate - starts lecturing you about fit. That is a Cleveland Browns level horror story.
The Suns ended up taking Josh Jackson, a defensive specialist who was considered raw coming out of Kansas. This season Jackson averaged 10 points and 3 rebounds for the Memphis Grizzlies, after the Suns traded him at the end of 2018-19 for - in essence - Jevon Carter. Tatum averaged 23 points and 7 rebounds in 2019-20, in the midst of a breakout season before the NBA ceased operations.
But, even if Sarver didn't like Tatum, how could the Suns "pass" on a player that was taken one spot ahead of them in the draft? "Easy," says Earl Watson.
Watson hinted today on Twitter that the Suns essentially had an option to tell either Tatum or Jackson to strong-arm the Celtics into not picking them. Dominique Wilkins willed his way out of Utah in 1982, and Kobe Bryant was rumored to have forced his way out of Charlotte in 1996. Guard Kris Dunn's camp reportedly made it clear they didn't want him landing in Boston just a year prior to the Jackson-Tatum draft. So, what Watson suggested is not out of the realm of possibilities, especially considering Boston's reputation as tough on players, and Tatum's clear preference to fall to the Suns.
Josh Jackson ultimately ended up being the one to strong-arm Boston, and Celtics GM Danny Ainge wasn't happy about it.
"They cancelled a workout on us when we flew out to Sacramento," Ainge said. "They just decided to cancel it as we flew... across country. There was something that he didn't want to play for the Celtics. In spite of that, we watched Josh for two years, and we're fans."
When asked whether it affected Ainge's draft-day thoughts, he said, "Yeah, I was mad. I flew across country, are you kidding me? I had to get up at 4 o'clock and fly back home."
I'll bet Tatum could've made the Celtics mad too. But that wouldn't have made Robert Sarver happy.