Jayson Tatum wanted to play for the Suns, and the Suns wanted him. Well, their head coach did. In a story for The Athletic, Jay King described yet another moment that will remind Suns fans of how ownership is the most critical factor in a fan’s state of mind.
Tatum worked out for the Suns and had a spectacular workout. Thomas recalled Tatum starting his workout by going 40 for 40 from the three-point line. Watson looked towards his owner and GM thinking they would agree with him – ‘What else do we need to see?’ Team owner Robert Sarver stopped the drill, to the frustration of his head coach.
“I don’t know how many more he could have made, but the owner stopped the drill. And you don’t stop that drill. You just don’t. You just sit there, and you admire it, and you stay out of the way. So the owner stops the drill and says, ‘That’s nice. What else can you do?’ I’m like, ‘What? What? The workout should be over. This is our guy.’”Earl Watson, The Athletic
To add insult to injury, despite that, Tatum still wanted to go to Phoenix. Boston was picking at 3, Phoenix at 4, and Tatum told his agent he wants to play for the Suns; Tatum even said no to a workout with the Celtics. He knew Watson and had faith in him, Arizona has nice weather and Tatum already envisioned a house with a pool. The Celtics were an excellent team, and he was skeptical about his playing time, something that wasn’t a concern in Phoenix.
But after Mike Krzyzewski called him and praised the Celtics, Tatum gave them a shot and worked out in Boston. They picked him at no.3, and the rest is history. To be clear, the fact Danny Ainge traded out of no.1 and Markelle Fultz confident Tatum would be there at no.3 means he probably wouldn’t have traded with the Suns.
But this story is fascinating for two reasons. First of all, it yet again shows the cost of having a lousy owner. Sarver thought Tatum and Booker couldn’t play on the same team, and as a successful real estate developer, his opinion mattered most in who the team would draft. He gets to do that because he owns the team, but as we learn, again and again, one of the most important qualities of good ownership is letting the basketball people making basketball decisions.
The other thing is – players still don’t consider ownership as much as they should. Why the hell is weather so important??? Players have the rest of their life to choose warm weather, maybe prioritize organizational quality to average temperature? Luckily, Tatum’s agent Jeff Wechsler probably made that Coach K call happen and steered his client in the right direction.
It must suck being a Suns fan. I feel for you guys.