The Phoenix Suns selected Josh Jackson during the 2017 NBA Draft even though many believed the Boston Celtics traded down to draft him.
Instead, the Celtics never found an amenable time to meet with the former Kansas star. Jackson said the “only reason” he did not meet with Boston is because of scheduling reasons.
However, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge had a different theory. Ainge spoke about when he joined coach Brad Stevens and assistant GM Mike Zarren on a long flight to visit with Jackson (via CSNNE.com):
Never talked with Josh. No one in our organization did. I know someone wrote that that was difference, but that’s not the case. They cancelled a workout on us when we flew out to Sacramento, and they just decided to cancel it as we flew – just Brad and I and Mike Zarren flew cross-country. So there was something that he didn’t want to play for the Celtics.
Jackson canceled a workout with the organization scheduled for June 12. He originally declined to meet with the team because he didn’t believe their front office would “seriously consider” him at No. 1 overall. But when they traded down, he said it was purely a logistical mishap.
Before the draft, however, the rumor was Jackson wouldn’t work out for Boston unless he had assurance they would draft him at No. 3 overall. The NBA prospect had received similar promises from Phoenix and Sacramento.
He was selected at the No. 4 overall pick by the Suyns, one behind when the Celtics selected Duke’s Jayson Tatum. Meanwhile, the Boston front office was apparently leaning towards Tatum as the draft neared closer.