NBA Rumor: Jared Sullinger Free Agency

78 rumors in this storyline

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.”

More Rumors in this Storyline

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.”

Jared Sullinger wants back in the NBA

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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

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.
More HoopsHype Rumors
February 28, 2021 | 6:15 am EST Update

Kevin Love unlikely to return before All-Star break

Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love is on this quick two-game trip with his teammates so he can continue to rehab a high-grade strained right calf, but the five-time All-Star is “unlikely” to return until after the NBA All-Star break, league sources tell cleveland.com.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 266 more rumors

Kevin Durant to still serve as All-Star captain

The Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant will still serve as an NBA All-Star Game captain despite a hamstring injury that will keep him from playing. Durant and fellow All-Star Game captain LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers will each draft a roster out of the pool of selected All-Stars. The All-Star draft will air on TNT on March 4. It remained unclear whether Durant will travel to Atlanta for the game on March 7.
A Knicks official said Rivers was at the Garden, but in the back getting treatment for a sore ankle. Rivers was not listed on the pregame injury report submitted to the NBA. On the box score, Rivers was listed with a DNP-Coach’s Decision. Earlier this week, Rivers said of his situation: “I can’t control if I’m traded today, tomorrow or the next day. What I can control is how I am as a player.’’
Storyline: Austin Rivers Trade?
That doesn’t mean he’s a finished product. There’s a reason the Raptors signed him with G League intentions and not for the NBA roster. The 10-day contract (about $82,000) affords them six games to see how he can fit and progress in their environment. It’s an audition by another name, and not the first time the Raptors have used a 10-day to get a 905 look at a prospect. “This gives us a chance to get Donta down in our system, teach him our ins and outs and the way we operate our offence, our defence, our schemes, and see how he looks running those,” general manager Chad Sanders said. “With Tampa just down the street, it’s a chance for us to get him out there and get some reps and get a chance to evaluate him for the big club.”