NBA rumors: Jared Sullinger wants back in the NBA

Sullinger is not ready to call it a career and is looking to make an NBA comeback. “I’m definitely trying to get back to the NBA,” he said. “I feel like I’ve still got a lot of basketball left, I can help a team, I feel like me being not the biggest guy but still strong enough to guard a five and be able to stretch the floor, I’m in better shape.”

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The 6'9" Sullinger still has the same agent he had years ago, David Falk, and is committed to going any route he has to take in his pathway back to the NBA, such as playing in the G-League, and as of today, he says he feels "amazing," and this is the best he has ever felt health-wise. "I'm just looking for somebody to give me an opportunity," Sullinger said. "If I get the opportunity, I promise I will seize the moment at that moment."
On Saturday, The Basketball Tournament kicked off and Jared Sullinger was on the sideline for Carmen’s Crew. He was the coach of the team filled mostly with Ohio State alumni. It’s a role he relishes. Yet it’s not a role he wants to assume permanently. Sullinger, the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2012 who enjoyed four solid seasons with the club, still has aspirations of returning to the NBA. He’s only 28 but hasn’t played in the league in three years. His post-Celtic career lasted just 11 games with the Raptors, and then Sullinger learned about the harsh reality of being injured and considered damaged goods.
He has recovered fully. Sullinger is married and the father of twins. He reflects on his Celtics years fondly but hopes he’s not done gobbling up rebounds with his burly frame. “I want to play and, of course, the NBA is the ultimate goal,” he said. “The last two years I just felt like I had to find myself. I had to find something that drives me and makes me want to play. In the NBA, you kind of get lost in the shuffle because you have so many games, and when I got out there in [the Chinese Basketball Association] it was kind of a retreat for Jared Sullinger to learn himself and fall in love with the game again.”
Emiliano Carchia: Former Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger is close to signing with Nanjing Monkeys in China, a source told @Sportando .
The Big3 league will expand to 12 teams and play two days a week, an increase from its Friday night slate last season. The plan is for six teams to play in one city and six in another during an 18-city tour. The minimum age for a player has been lowered to 27, and the league is expected to target former Celtic Jared Sullinger.
After 4 1/2 seasons in the NBA in which he had back surgery once, surgery to repair stress fractures in his left foot twice and ultimately found himself unemployed because of his inability to control his weight, he said he is healthy and just happy to be back playing basketball again. Whether next season sees him back in the NBA, back in China, where he played last season, or in Europe, is immaterial. “Of course, everybody’s dream is to play in the NBA. Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “But I just want to play basketball somewhere. I’m at that point in my dream. I just want to play basketball and get paid somewhere to be able to play basketball. That’s my main goal. Whether it’s here, there or on the moon, I’m there.”
Sullinger was plagued by injuries in the NBA. He missed the last two months of his rookie season after undergoing back surgery. He missed the second half of the 2015 season with a stress fracture in his left foot. Sullinger told recently that he is using TBT to show NBA teams he is still healthy. “For Jared, this is a job interview,” Fraschilla said. “This is a kid who’s trying to show NBA teams he’s still valuable.”
In a revealing Q&A with The Comeback, Sullinger openly talked about the dark year in his life trying to rehab from his injury and his weight issues, and how he had what he termed a mental breakdown before he began to improve. “I had a mental breakdown because, for the first time in my life, something didn’t work for me,” he admitted.
I don’t want to get too specific, but when you say a mental breakdown, was that an actual mental breakdown or was it your mindset? Sullinger: I was in tears! I was in tears, I was crying. Because I just didn’t know what I could do to help myself to be a better basketball player, for me to be healthy. And over time, I just got better and better, and I’ve been reading books and just trying to figure out who I am as a person. And the more I figure out who I am as a person, the better off my basketball game goes, the better off as a person I am.
Anthony Puccio: #Nets have interest in Jared Sullinger, but the belief is that he is headed to China.
Jared Sullinger has no problem using the F-word. Fat. Ask the out-of-work NBA player — the Phoenix Suns cut him in February — and the one-time Ohio State center from Northland speaks openly on the subject. I know, because I asked him. “You look like you’re down to, what, 240?” I asked, hoping not to have guessed embarrassingly high. “I wish,” he answered.
“I lost a year of basketball directly because of what I have done — my weight and my eating habits,” he said, explaining how his unwillingness to shed pounds led the Celtics to release him in 2016 and later contributed to the Toronto Raptors trading him to Phoenix on Feb. 23. The Suns cut him the next day.
Maybe an NBA franchise will notice Sullinger’s weight loss and show interest. He averaged 10.8 points and 7.5 rebounds in five NBA seasons. There is plenty of game left in him. Or maybe the next step is playing overseas. Either way, he does not sound worried. “Now that I have basketball and my health, I don’t give a damn about anything else,” he said.
The Phoenix Suns have signed guard Ronnie Price for the remainder of the season. The Suns have also waived forward Mike Scott and center/forward Jared Sullinger.
Toronto and Washington are both eager to add another rotation player, per several league sources. The Raps roster is a little heavy on bigs after the Ibaka deal, and they still have trade chips -- all their own picks, and some interesting young guys. They have the maximum 15 players under contract, but if necessary, they could waive Jared Sullinger to clear a roster spot.
So why Toronto? Why the Raptors? Jared Sullinger: Why the Raptors? Why not. It was almost like a no brainer. It was a situation where not only money was great, but the situation of us winning—they lost Bismack Biyombo, they lost Luis Scola, they needed a other big, and I just said “Why not?” This is a team with hard workers, and you look at the team, and there's a lot of guys that were journeymen before they went to the Toronto Raptors. It’s just been the place to be, you got the whole country behind you, and they want to win. That’s the mindset out here.
“Jared still hasn’t figured out who he wants to be, and when he does, he’s going to take off,” John Lucas said. “He’s still fighting anybody and everybody about who knows best. He’ll give in to a point, but he won’t... let... go. And if he’d ever just let go and accept what people are telling him, I think he can be great. I love his talent. I haven’t seen a lot of guys with his talent. He’s really highly talented. He’s got 3-point range. He played well. But I think the Celtics were concerned about his weight all year.”
“He really worked and got himself down to about 282 last year when he left, but he began to put weight on when he went back up,” he said. “He worked had all summer. I really think he has some kind of food intolerance or some other thing. It’s not like he’s not conscious of it. I think he just has to investigate more what dictates his weight. I recommended to him that he go see a holistic doctor or some kind of doctor about what food allergies he might have. My daughter went to a food allergy doctor and cut out yeast and bread, and she dropped 40 pounds in like three months just by taking that out of her diet. I think Jared, as much as he ran and worked, he should have been around 210. When he’s in shape, his talent can take over. But he gets out of shape, and then he gets tired and his shot gets blocked.”
Jared Sullinger: Thank you Boston #TeamSully #7
Adrian Wojnarowski: Free agent Jared Sullinger has agreed to a one-year deal with the Toronto Raptors, league sources tell @TheVertical.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Celtics pulled back qualifying offer on Sullinger, making him an unrestricted free agent. Masai Ujiri met with him Sunday, deal today.
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens admitted the addition of free-agent big man Al Horford forced his team to make difficult roster decisions, including moving on from Jared Sullinger. As part of inking Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract last week, the Celtics rescinded a $4.4 million qualifying offer to Sullinger and renounced their rights to him, making him an unrestricted free agent. "I think Jared’s a really good player, and I think Jared will continue to be a really good player," Stevens said before watching Boston's entry in the Las Vegas Summer League play the Phoenix Suns at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV. "Obviously when we got Al, that made us make hard decisions. And the thing that stinks about that is having to move on and move forward, both for him and us. But he’ll do great. Jared’s one of the more talented guys being able to get the ball off the glass, and he’s got a beautiful touch and he’s a good guy, and so I think he’ll do well.
Jared Sullinger’s tenure with the Celtics almost has certainly come to an end, as the team renounced its 2016-17 qualifying offer to the forward, making him an unrestricted free agent. “Jared’s a good kid and I’m grateful for what he gave us and I wish him well,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said by telephone Sunday. “I hope he gets a good opportunity. We just feel this is the best thing for our team.”
Although the Celtics technically could still sign Sullinger, that is an extremely remote possibility. By renouncing Sullinger’s cap hold, the Celtics gave up his “Bird Rights,” which would have allowed Boston to go over the salary cap to re-sign him because he had spent three years with the team.
Gary Washburn: Source confirms Jared Sullinger has been renounced and is unrestricted FA. Ends uneven tenure with #Celtics. 11.1 ppg. 7.7 rpg in 258 games
The Celtics have decisions to make on two other young big men in Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller. Both players are restricted free agents after Boston tendered qualifying offers in late June. The Celtics are unlikely to sign either to the sort of long-term, big-money deal that might compromise their salary flexibility, but they'd certainly consider short-term deals (particularly if neither received an offer sheet and settled for the qualifying offer). "I've talked with both those guys and we'll continue to see how it all plays out," Ainge said. "We are still looking at doing deals and we're certainly not finished for the summer. Those are two very good players and we'll continue talking with them as the summer goes along."
Steve Bulpett: According to league-related sources, Celts to give qualifying offers to Jared Sullinger & Tyler Zeller, making them restricted free agents.
Addressing his impending restricted free agency on The Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix, Sullinger said he would "love to" return to the Celtics -- whose chemistry he lauded -- but understands the team will have a lot of decisions to make. "We'll see," Sullinger told Mannix. "I understand there's a lot of free agents out there. I understand there's a lot of draft picks they have. There might be a lot of movement. But regardless of whatever happens, I have to thank the Celtics organization for what they have done. They gave me a chance when nobody else was going to give me a chance. And just for that I feel like I owe them. I would love to come back."
What will Sullinger look for during free agency? "This being my first summer (as a free agent), I really don't know," he said. "I really don't know. So right now I'm walking in there like a blind bat in a room and just trying to figure out who's who and what's what. I really can't say what's going to happen. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm going to just walk in there, and whatever happens, happens."
Q: You challenged Jared Sullinger to come back in better shape this season and we all overanalyzed his role during the preseason, but now he's emerged as the team’s best big man early in the season. Are you happy with the way he appears to have embraced that challenge? Danny Ainge: Jared has played really well. I know what he’s capable of doing. I think Jared is still so young. I think that his best basketball is still ahead of him. But I do see a lot of great progress from Jared.
“I believe Jared’s going to be a very, very valuable free agent next summer. I don’t think there are very many good free agents next summer. The cap’s going to up $20 million dollars, and I think at that point it’s just a more natural time to talk about it. Most people -- including Danny, who knows me well -- understand that that’s my philosophy. It has nothing to do with them getting a bargain or not getting a bargain. Unless Danny came to me and said, ‘Would you be interested in maxing out Jared Sullinger?’ there’s really nothing to talk about.
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March 7, 2021 | 6:07 am EST Update
As it turns out, it wasn’t anything internal that led to Bosh calling it a career. His decision actually came forth after seeing Gordon Hayward’s injured his ankle in the first few minutes of his debut for the Boston Celtics in the opening night of the 2017-18 season: “I really knew I wasn’t gonna come back when Gordon Hayward dislocated his ankle,” Bosh said in a recent interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio. “I told myself that year, I said, ‘Man, let me get back in the ball.’ Because I didn’t watch any basketball the year before. I’m gonna work out harder, I’m gonna get back inspired. Cleveland and Boston was playing. First game. Dwyane and ‘Bron. I watched my old friends at Cleveland. Boston’s got this new team. Within the first five minutes of me watching basketball that year, I see a dislocated ankle. And it pretty much knocked all the wind out of my sail. It was already really hard and getting more disheartening the further we were getting away from me not playing. And I knew that as a player. Whatever want that I had at that time, I was like, ‘Man, c’mon.’”
Storyline: Chris Bosh Retirement
What was the year for you all that you thought ‘Man, that was ours. We should have had (ring), it should have popped that year? Chris Webber: I think it’s the, you know, I guess it’s the Lakers. I don’t know if that was 2002 or 03. That’s the year we got cheated I think in Game 6… The year Robert Horry hit a crazy shot… It was that year. It was that year. You know, me and Kobe used to talk about it all the time. (…) That was the team. We should have won the championship and we didn’t because we didn’t follow through after being disappointed in Game six.
In the final games before the All-Star break, TNT averaged 1.06 million for Heat-Pelicans Thursday night — down 31% from Clippers-Rockets last year (1.53M). The previous night, ESPN pulled 1.09 million for Nets-Rockets and 1.32 million for Warriors-Blazers, up 30% and down 10% respectively from last year’s comparable doubleheader (Pacers-Bucks: 839K; Pelicans-Mavericks: 1.47M).
Storyline: TV Ratings