How the Phoenix Suns may have gotten the Boston Celtics to pass on Josh Jackson

2017 NBA Draft

The Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns have a lopsided recent history when it comes to trades.

Back in February of 2015, the Celtics sent Marcus Thornton and the Cleveland Cavaliers' first-round draft pick to the Suns in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, who has blossomed into one of the game's best point guards in Boston.

So, when the Suns decided they wanted to draft Kansas star Josh Jackson with the No. 4 overall pick on Thursday, they needed to ensure that the Celtics would pass on him at No. 3.

Though Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough says nothing fishy happened, Jackson canceled his pre-draft workout with the Celtics, making Duke's Jayson Tatum stand out even more for Boston GM Danny Ainge. According to Yahoo! Sports, McDonough said everything the Suns did in the buildup to the draft was within the NBA rulebook, even if they did try to position themselves to land Jackson:

“You guys know my connection to the Boston Celtics and the respect I have for Danny Ainge, but you guys also know how competitive I am and it is a competition,” McDonough told AP. “The process is what it is and we played by the rules, I guess. I’m just thrilled Josh Jackson is sitting next to me and is a member of the Phoenix Suns.”

Indeed, Jackson fell to No. 4 and the Suns were more than happy to select the promising young star, but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Jackson had worked out for Ainge and the Celtics.

Oklahoma State v Kansas

Ainge recently told ESPN.com that he tried not to hold Jackson's workout snafu against him, but added that it did affect the Celtics' draft-night decisions:

"Agents and players have all sorts of motivations to get to certain places, as we've seen in the past," Ainge said. "Remember last year, Kris Dunn didn't want to come here; we didn't hold it against him. We felt like we were just taking the player that we wanted [in Jaylen Brown last year]. And I think the same thing this time. I don't think we were trying to penalize Josh too much, but we didn't get to see him or talk to him face-to-face."

It's too late to change things now, though, so the Celtics will move forward with Tatum - one of the best pure scorers in the draft class - and the Suns will figure out how to best utilize Jackson - one of the best perimeter defenders in the class.

Whatever happens, it'll be interesting to see if the two rookies go head to head when the Celtics and Suns meet during the 2017-18 season.

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