Jayson Tatum Didn't Want to Be Drafted By the Celtics

Jayson Tatum on draft night
Jayson Tatum on draft night / Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics trading down in the 2017 NBA Draft to select Jayson Tatum will go down as one of the best draft-day trades in history, and only looks better as the years go on and Tatum's star profile rises. However, if it were up to Tatum, things would not have happened that way at all.

Tatum appeared on the popular All The Smoke podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson to shoot the bull about quarantine and basketball. He told the players-turned-podcast-hosts that he didn't want to be drafted by the Celtics, hoping to end up in Phoneix instead. Tatum had been wooed by then-Suns coach Earl Watson, and felt like that was the right landing spot for him before the draft. Then Danny Ainge called (starting at the 24:00 mark):

"I remember, I get back to my hotel [in Phoenix], I'm about to fly back home for two days before I go to New York. My agent called me, he said, 'Danny Ainge called me, they're gonna trade their pick, they're going to go to three, and they want you to come to Boston to work out.' I'm like, '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 big house, I get a pool, my mom's gonna be alright,'" said Tatum. "He's like, 'Brad Stevens is a great young coach, they got a great history,' I'm not trying to hear that. I want to go to Phoenix... There was a part of me that didn't really want to go to Boston because they [were] just the No. 1 team in the East, they got Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, [Marcus] Smart, JB [Jaylen Brown], Jae Crowder. I'm like, 'I'm not gonna play! I'm trying to get buckets.'"

An interesting alternative reality is what might've happened if Tatum ended up as Devin Booker's running mate instead of in the Northeast. I don't know how much better the Suns would be right now, but that's a dangerous scoring combination right there.

Regardless, I always find it fascinating to hear how players think ahead of the draft. Tatum was certainly correct in his observations that Boston had a stronger roster than anyone else in that area of the draft. His path to playing time wasn't clear, although it became so two months after the draft when Boston shipped out Crowder and IT for Kyrie Irving. As Tatum said at the end, it all worked out--for him and his team.