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The Boston Celtics stuck with the third overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft and selected Jayson Tatum out of Duke. It seems like a really good fit and pick. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge insists the team would have selected Tatum had they held onto the No. 1 overall pick before trading it to Philadelphia.

Upon meeting with the media, however, Ainge took the opportunity about the player they passed on, Kansas forward Josh Jackson. Selected fourth by the Phoenix Suns, Jackson said the other three teams who opted not to draft him would be sorry. But according to Ainge, Jackson has no one to blame but himself for convincing the Celtics to pass on him.

For one thing, the two sides never spoke with each other. But Ainge was especially angry when Jackson cancelled a workout with the Celtics recently. The cancellation could not have happened at a worse time, as Ainge and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens were already in flight on their way across the country to see Jackson in Sacramento.

“Never talked with Josh. No one in our organization did,” Ainge said, as reported by “They cancelled a workout on us when we flew out to Sacramento, and they just decided to cancel it as we flew — just [coach] Brad [Stevens] and I and [assistant general manager] Mike Zarren flew cross-country.”

It’s not as though Ainge and Stevens were flying in from Seattle or Denver. A cross-country flight from Boston to Sacramento is a long time to be on a plane, even if on a luxurious private jet owned by the team. Some teams would hold that against a player, which Ainge and the Celtics very well may have. Boston may have selected Tatum anyway, but Jackson made their decision much easier by acting as if he didn’t want to play for the Celtics.

“So there was something that he didn’t want to play for the Celtics. In spite of that, we’ve watched Josh for two years and we’re fans. He’s a terrific kid and a good player. So we tried not to overreact to those kinds of things and make a big deal of it.”

Ainge insists Tatum would have been his pick regardless of Jackson’s decision, and he may end up being a better fit in the Celtics lineup. But the whole scenario was obviously a huge inconvenience. Ainge did have a great line when asked what he did in Sacramento after Jackson cancelled his workout.

“There’s nothing to do in Sacramento,” Ainge said with a laugh, drawing the same reaction from the media. That will probably go over well in California’s capital city.


About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.