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Danny Ainge: Celtics would’ve drafted Jayson Tatum even without workout

Jayson Tatum with Wyc Grousbeck, Stephen Pagliuca, Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics

WALTHAM, MA- JUNE 23: Jayson Tatum #11 of the Boston Celtics holds his jersey as he poses for a picture with Wyc Grousbeck, Stephen Pagliuca, Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics during a introductory press conference on June 23 in Waltham, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Jayson Tatum said he nearly skipped a pre-draft workout with the Celtics (who had the No. 1 pick then traded down to No. 3 in 2017), because he wanted to join the Suns (who had the No. 4 pick). Tatum eventually worked out for Boston, which picked him No. 3. Tatum told the story as if it were a seminal decision in his NBA career.

It probably wasn’t.

Teams, not players, control the draft.

Celtics president Danny Ainge on “The Lowe Post” podcast, via Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston:

“There was a story that came out this week about Jayson going to Phoenix. Jayson was never gonna end up in Phoenix,” Ainge told Lowe. “Even if he didn’t come in for that second workout with us days before the draft in Boston, we were still going to take Jayson Tatum.”

I believe Ainge. By every indication, the Celtics were locked on Tatum.

So, while there’s debate about whether Phoenix preferred Tatum or actual No. 4 pick Josh Jackson, it barely matters. The Suns just didn’t have a high enough pick to get Tatum.

And there was practically nothing they or he could do about it.