Should The Celtics Give Up On Jared Sullinger?


Jared Sullinger is – without a doubt – the most frustrating player on the Celtics. He has the talent of a max contract player, yet cannot for the life of him stay in shape. Ever since his NBA tenure began in Boston, fans have grown wary of his weight problems and have found themselves divided on him.

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Heading into training camp, the media was buzzing about Sullinger and his alleged healthier frame. Sullinger recognized this upcoming season was pivotal for him seeing as he’s entering a semi-contract year (restricted free agency) but is valued lower than he’s ever been. His next contract is 100% contingent on his weight considering his game’s biggest weaknesses are predicated on his size. His chubbiness brings terrible stamina and abysmal speed for Sullinger, who – in the modern age of the NBA – will not be able to keep up with a single team’s offense.

This problem became so glaring that Sully’s friends and family ended up organizing an intervention for him over the summer. They expressed their concern over his weight, competitive drive and overall inability to stay on the floor. What ensued was the enlisting of former NBA-washout, John Lucas to serve as Sullinger’s personal trainer/staff sergeant this offseason. With activities such as boxing and swimming on the schedule – in addition to having to abide to a strict diet – Sully’s summer was basically a one-man Fat Camp.

Unfortunately, the only good it may have served was inflating Sullinger’s ego. He boasted of a slenderer frame over social media, yet by the night of the Celtics’ inter-team scrimmage, there were no discernible differences in both his size and his speed.

According to Mass Live’s Jay King, who was in attendance:

"“Jared Sullinger came off the bench for the White squad, but entered the game after less than three minutes and played a lot of crunch time. Like he claimed he would at a recent practice, he focused on working in the low post. Though he delivered a few nice passes and regularly crashed the offensive glass, he also committed at least three turnovers, two on offensive fouls. Most importantly, he did not appear appreciably more mobile. On one Jerebko three, Sullinger declined to even attempt a contest.”"

In defense of Sullinger, this is an incredibly small sample size based-off anecdotal, albeit highly-believable, evidence. In all fairness, he may not be any skinnier this year, but his equally-large size could be the result of increased muscle. We also have to give him the benefit of the doubt, since we don’t know if he suffered any injuries during training camp or not. If he did – which is likely for players coming off of a long summer – it could explain his snail pace that night.

Yet, King’s observation of Sully failing to contest a Jerebko shot is pretty damning. It’d be one thing if Sully just had difficulty losing weight, but if he really doesn’t have the will to practice at a competitive level, it means that it could be time for us to move on. If his enthusiasm remains this lackluster, Ainge will have no choice but to unload him before his contract expires.

But Sullinger deserves one more chance. This season will be the final straw, however. He warrants this last chance because Ainge needs one more season to gauge whether Sully can tap a modicum of his potential or not. This untapped potential cannot be realized though, until he can lose some weight.

If he needed any more of a kick in the arse, on October 4th, legendary Celtics beat writer, Bob Ryan, voiced his desire to move on from Sullinger:

"“I’m holding Sullinger accountable. I in no way hold the coaching staff accountable for him. He ought to be better. I really want to move on from him. Don’t blame the coaches for Sullinger. I want to move on.”"

To hammer his point home, Ryan questioned Sullinger’s character and wondered if he even wants to play in this league:

"“It will be his loss more than the team’s loss if he doesn’t want to get with the program. He has to look in the mirror and decide if he wants to be an NBA player drawing an NBA paycheck or a great player.”"

Ryan has a point. The team thrived without him during their playoff run last season. Getting rid of Sullinger would also remove some of the team’s clutter.

Without him, it’d allow the other Celtics’ bigs to play more minutes and develop a more consistent schedule. It’d also allow Jordan Mickey more of an opportunity to develop in his rookies season. Mickey has the potential to fill the rebounding void created by a potential-Sullinger departure, and the potential to bring an element of shot-blocking to a Celtics team with little rim protection.

But Sully, you have one season to prove everyone wrong. Clock’s ticking…

Next: Celtics' Preseason Opener At Risk For Turner

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