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Irish Coffee: What Jared Sullinger’s decision means to the Celtics’ future

Wake up with the Celtics [1] and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Over the weekend, when Ohio State freshman forward Jared Sullinger vowed to return to Columbus for his sophomore season, the thought struck me: Because of the uncertainty surrounding the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, could many college underclassmen be targeting 2012 rather than this year’s NBA draft?

It sure looks that way, and that benefits the Celtics — considering they own their 2012 pick and the selection that came with Jeff Green [2] and Nenad Krstic [3] for Kendrick Perkins [4].

That pick from the Thunder is a little complicated. It’s top-10 protected and falls in the less favorable spot between the Clippers and Timberwolves [5]. Basically, if either the Clips or Wolves capture any pick from 11-30, the lower one belongs to the Celtics. If both teams get top-10 picks, the pick gets pushed to the next season — until 2016, when it’s unprotected.

Considering the Clippers own the eighth-worst record this season and should improve based on a young roster that includes Blake Griffin [6] and Eric Gordon [7], there’s a legitimate chance the Celtics could own two picks in a draft that will be much better than anticipated.

Of the 40 college underclassmen projected as potential first-round picks [8], only three have declared to enter the 2011 NBA draft — and none of them is a lottery projection. Of course, the remaining 37 players have until April 24 to declare.

Still, two w0uld-be lottery guys (Sullinger and Texas freshman forward Tristan Thompson) are going back to school. According to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford [9], 23 of those 37 — and six potential lottery picks, including North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Arizona’s Derrick Williams [10] and Kentucky’s Brandon Knight [11] — are “50-50” with less than a month to decide. The remaining 12 still reportedly have “one foot in the door.”

So, if half of those 50-50 guys — along with Sullinger and Thompson — wait until 2012, that could push as many as 15 more potential first-round picks to a draft that might also include Celtics coach Doc Rivers [12]‘ son Austin Rivers. With possibly two picks in that draft, the C’s should be able to add some serious young talent for cheap dollars in 2012.

With a lockout looming, at least Celtics fans have something to look forward to.


Following the Celtics’ awful loss to the Bobcats [14] on Friday and prior to their ugly win against the Timberwolves on Sunday, Kevin Garnett posted this on his Anta blog [15]:

“Don’t know what to say. Team needs to get it together soon! Playoffs are coming and we’ve lost a few. I know that I’ve moved up the scoring list, but I’d rather win a championship. Losing at home can’t happen!”

Garnett recently passed Elgin Baylor [16] and Adrian Dantley to move into 20th among the NBA’s all-time career scoring leaders. He ranks third behind Shaquille O’Neal [17] and Kobe Bryant [18] among active players with 23,204 career points.

Upon returning to the city where he scored the majority of his points, Garnett also had some pointed comments about the C’s in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune [19]:


The Timberwolves faced the Thunder and Celtics in back-to-back games over the weekend, so who better to comment on the after-effects of the Perkins deal?

Minnesota head coach Kurt Rambis — who’s probably not a Celtics fan [20] — did just that in another Star Tribune interview [21], and his comments were more than positive:

“Now it gives Doc a lot of versatility, particularly with Rondo out there, to space the floor. He can put people out there who can open the floor a lot better and now it makes it very, very tough for teams to clog up the lane. If you had Perkins out there, it allows somebody to stay in the lane.”


Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo reportedly did not play against the Timberwolves on Sunday night “because of a strained right pinky finger [23]” that has bothered him for much of the season. Apparently, the finger got hit during Saturday’s practice.

Rondo remains day-to-day and questionable for Monday night’s game against the Pacers. Meanwhile, Jermaine O’Neal [24] is expected to join the team in Indiana. He could suit up for the Celtics as soon as Thursday’s game against the Spurs.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail tobrohrbach@weei.com [25] or a Twitter message to @brohrbach [26].)