The Phoenix Suns have not had the best draft for the last several years and one of the reasons for that, according to former head coach Earl Watson, is owner, Robert Sarver.
We recently talked about how Coach K was the influential advisor to Jayson Tatum that made him attend the Celtics workout before the 2017 draft when he really didn’t want to go. Tatum had his heart on the Phoenix Suns and planned on skipping the workout in Boston in an effort to avoid being drafted there, as they had a higher pick than the Suns.
After a few tweets from then-head coach, Earl Watson, the plot thickens.
According to Watson, there is, “So much more to this story, but basically Sarver said NO…the end.”
You might be asking yourself, how could Sarver intervene? The Celtics had the higher pick anyway. Well, the way Watson tells it: “Josh Jackson canceled the Cs workout & Tatum wanted to do the same. Chess in the Art of War.”
The way I interpret that he feels he could have convinced Josh Jackson to attend the Celtics workout and maybe Jayson Tatum stay home. Sure, there was the aforementioned Coach K factor, but in the age where players have a huge say in where they go in trades, it isn’t a stretch to assume the same goes for lottery picks in the draft as well.
Now you might think, but wait, Earl Watson got fired very early, so surely he must have a vendetta against Sarver. How do we know this is true?
“Sarver didn’t have a problem with me, we weren’t positioned to win! Sarver had a problem with my agent at the time. I never said why I got leveraged. I chose culture over demands. Instead, I let the circus play & I went back to UCLA to graduate. The end.”
Alright, that’s a lot to unpack.
First, it sounds like he somewhat defends the relationship between himself and Sarver, saying the real beef was between Sarver and his agent. Okay, I guess. One could argue someone’s agent is an extension of the client’s wishes, but sure, alright.
Then he states he never said why he got leveraged (presumably, he means fired here), and then proceeds to not say why he got leveraged, outside of a very coy, “I chose culture over demands.”
My assumption there is that Sarver made some personnel and lineup demands that Watson disagreed with. This could be related to an old story about how Watson claimed he was a martyr because he wanted to keep starting rookie Devin Booker after Brandon Knight came back from injury, and Sarver strongly disagreed.
Finally, he makes it sound like his departure from the Suns was mutual as he returned to UCLA to finish his degree (good for him), while casually calling the organization a circus.
I don’t think Earl Watson would still be the Phoenix Suns coach today if the team drafted Tatum instead of Jackson in 2017, but the behind-the-scenes story is certainly interesting.
We all know Sarver is a very hands-on owner whose decisions are usually to the detriment of the organization, but it is hard for me to get worked up about one player’s workout three years ago.
All we can do is what Suns fans always do: wonder what might have been and look forward to which star the Suns will miss out on this year’s upcoming draft.