Ainge on Sullinger: All of our players have met conditioning, body fat, etc. goals set by trainers, and Jared has not met them.
— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) February 26, 2015
Above are the words of Danny Ainge on 98.5 The Sports Hub last Thursday, causing many Celtics fans to raise their eyebrows. He made these statements shortly after it was announced that Jared Sullinger would miss the rest of the Celtics season following a left metatarsal stress fracture.
Sullinger was leading the Celtics in points per game with 14.4, and rebounds per game with 8.1. Despite this, Sully has admitted that he could be in better shape. He has failed to complete a full NBA season as a result of various injuries, all of which could potentially be attributed to Sullinger’s weight. In 2011, the average weight of a starting power forward was 245; Sullinger weighs in somewhere around 260.
In addition to the questions about Sullinger’s weight and commitment to meeting the teams goals, he was also late for two games within a week of each other. Sully cited Boston traffic as the cause of his tardiness, which is a pretty fair excuse outside of the fact that no other Celtic seems to suffer from the same problems. Being late is something inevitable for everyone, but when it happens two times in one week it raises questions about ones commitment.
With Jared Sullinger, Celtics fans must take the good with the bad. He is arguably overweight, and seems to still be brushing off some responsibility issues, but he is also a wonderful young basketball player on an extremely friendly contract. Sullinger is making an average of $1,591,605 over 4 years, and will become a restricted free agent in 2016.
The future of Jared Sullinger will likely go one of two ways:
1.) Ainge’s comments finally motivate Sullinger, who realizes he wants to stay in Boston, and he gets in shape over this offseason. Not only does he get in shape, but he becomes more responsible as well. This doesn’t just mean being on time for games, but becoming more of a leader as well. Even though Sullinger is the third youngest guy on the roster, he is also one of the teams most consistent players. For this reason, players look to him, especially in the fourth quarter, for guidance on how to play and how to handle themselves. Sullinger should take notes from older, “veteran” players in his position such as Brandon Bass. Sully easily could find himself as an All-Star player if he starts taking his time in Boston more seriously. He could also get paid big money by the Celtics at the end of 2016 if he gets his act together next season.
2.) Sullinger really doesn’t change much at all. Hopefully, Ainge notices this in time for the offseason, and moves Sully while he still has some value as a young, developing player on a great contract. Regardless of his condition next season, Sullinger will want a much bigger contract next year based on his strong stats. There is no place for him on the Celtics roster if he is going to be giving them more of the same next year, especially not on a more expensive contract. This may be an unpopular opinion, since he is one of Boston’s best players, but on a team that is playing with as much passion and drive to succeed as this team is playing with right now, Sullinger’s failure to show commitment is sure to raise eyebrows.
Everyone would love to see Sully get it all together; start acting responsibly, get in to shape, and continue scoring and rebounding consistently every night. However, if he cannot do that, there are plenty of teams who would be happy to take Sullinger as he is. He certainly has the potential to develop in to an All-Star in the NBA if he gets his act together. However, if Ainge senses that Sullinger is not going to be a serious part of the Celtics team as they move forward, it would be wise to get rid of him sooner rather than later, when Boston can still get at least some value for him.
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