Jared Sullinger wants to stay in Boston, but the Celtics may be better off moving on
Jared Sullinger is one of a few players who either aren't under contract or are on non-guaranteed deals for the Celtics next season. Sullinger will be a restricted free agent when the season ends meaning any team can offer him a contract with Boston having the right to match that offer.
“For sure,” Sullinger said. “When you spend four seasons in the same area and then play for the greatest organization of all time, you see the likes of Bill Russell sitting courtside, Kevin McHale, Bill Walton, and all these people that cheer, it’s very hard to walk away from this situation.”
With a bunch of teams having money to spend this summer due to the jump in the salary cap, it's not too hard to imagine another team offering Sully a contract to shore up its frontcourt. And depending on what that deal is, it may be in Boston's best interest to let him go, regardless of whether he wants to stay or not.
It would be a no-brainer to give up Sully if a team offers him a max deal (not that any team would), but even a deal averaging around $10 million per year may be too steep of a price to pay for the fourth-year player.
Sully has been a very frustrating player to watch during his tenure in Boston. His weight is always an issue with photos surfacing before the season showing a slimmer frame only to see him bulk back up as the season gets underway. This is not lost on President of Basketball Operations Danny Aingewho has spoken publicly about the big man's lack of conditioning. This was supposed to be the put-up-or-shut-up season where Sully showed a real commitment to getting in shape for his contract year. Instead, we still see Sully getting winded if he's on the court too long.
Injuries are also an issue for Sully. To be fair, he only missed one game this season. But he had a stress fracture in his foot last season likely due to his weight issues and fell to Boston in the draft because of concerns with his back which he ended up having surgery on.
At times Sully can look like the best player on the court. He's held his own against some of the elite bigs in the game such as DeMarcus Cousins. Other times he completely disappears or looks like he shouldn't even touch a basketball. One of those times was this playoff series against the Hawks.
Sully acknowledges this, again from Himmelsbach.
“I’ve got to do a lot of things better, but it was OK,” Sullinger said. “My window is getting smaller and smaller of constantly talking about I need to improve, I need to improve.”
That's nice to hear, but we've been hearing him say that about his weight as well. The time for talk ended as soon as the season got underway. This was Sully's chance to show what he's really made of and he blew it.
His scoring went down from 13.3 ppg last season to 10.3 ppg this season. That's partly due to him playing a little over three fewer minutes per contest with Boston's frontcourt logjam. Even still, Sully's rebounding improved from 7.6 rpg to 8.3 rpg. His threes, though, continued to hit at a well below league average rate of 28.2 percent.
As for the playoff series against the Hawks, Sully was only on the court for 13.5 mpg and had 5.2 ppg to go with 4.5 rpg. Ouch. Having a motivated, in shape Sully would have been huge against that great frontcourt in Atlanta.
Sully is still only 24 years old so this isn't to say he's a bust or he's peaked. He can absolutely improve. The question we're still asking is does he truly want to? If Boston can keep Sully for cheap then great, but it would be a real shame to give him a multi-year deal only to find out all of his talk was just that. Let some other team take that risk.