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Jared Sullinger on his contract year, Celtics: ‘It’s first team I played for in NBA and hopefully, the last’ 02.26.16 at 4:03 pm ET
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Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger

WALTHAM — Jared Sullinger is enjoying the low profile and dim light during his somewhat complicated contract year. And he’s using that low profile to help build his case to stay in Boston for the long haul. 

The 23-year-old power forward, represented by the powerful David Falk, is in his fourth NBA season, making $2.2 million. Sullinger is eligible for restricted free agency this summer, with a qualifying offer of $3.27 million.

Sullinger, who said he had an epiphany and a family intervention with John Lucas about his weight and eating issues in the offseason, has committed himself to the Brad Stevens system. He’s been part of a starting lineup that’s remained the same for the last 15 games and is averaging 10.1 points and a career-best 8.6 rebounds this season. 

Does Sullinger, still only 23, see himself staying in Boston for a long-term deal?

“Most definitely. Most definitely. My oldest brother always told me that the worst thing to happen to me sometimes is change and that I don’t handle change well. I strongly disagree,” Sullinger said, referring to the fact that he thinks he’s handled change well in the past. 

But then he admitted, “Sometimes, you just don’t want to change the scenery. When you play for the greatest franchise in the NBA and you see all those banners and all the fans come at you, you don’t want to leave that place because you know it’s a special place in your heart. It’s the first team I played for in the NBA and hopefully it’ll be the last.”

Does he think about that at practice with all the banners hanging up?

“What comes to mind in practice and shootarounds and games is how can we get better? How can we make this team better?” Sullinger said. 

Sullinger has enjoyed the low profile this year, with the emergence of Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley taking center stage. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Isaiah Thomas, Jared Sullinger
Jared Sullinger: ‘We played our butts off. We were five guys connected’ 02.21.16 at 8:27 pm ET
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Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger

With the Denver Nuggets looking to load up defensively and take away Isaiah Thomas, it was time for others in the Celtics offensive scheme to step up.

One of those who did exactly that in a 121-101 win over Denver Sunday night at the Pepsi Center was Jared Sullinger. The power forward came through with 16 points and 11 rebounds and was rolling off screens and hitting threes in the first half as the Celtics built a 26-point lead.

“I’m just blessed to have the ball bounce off the right way, I guess,” Sullinger told reporters afterward. What impressed Sullinger Sunday was how Thomas handled the early attention from Denver.

“I think he understands how his [points] will come when me, Amir [Johnson], Avery [Bradley], Jae [Crowder], when we make [adjustments], his is going to come because they’re going to have to adjust. He’s doing a great job of understanding when to go and when not to go. We just feed off of that.

“Just the way they were guarding and that’s just what the system spit out at the time. Our system is awesome because it just determines who’s going to score that night.”

And that system eventually gave Thomas his chances, finishing with 22 points and 12 assists. Overall, Sullinger said what meant the most to the Celtics was playing with a sense of urgency that wasn’t there in a loss in Utah Friday night.

“For sure. We played our butts off,” Sullinger said. “We were five guys connected. We got the rust off. We got the rust off and we’re looking to move forward.”

“Everybody needs a wake-up call. Even the best teams sometimes have wake-up calls. We understood what we have done the last couple of games and we stepped it up on defense.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Jared Sullinger,
Studs and Duds: Jared Sullinger, Celtics crush Wizards 11.27.15 at 10:57 pm ET
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Behind great defense and efficient offense, the Celtics routed the visiting Wizards, 111-78, Friday night at TD Garden.

The Celtics got off to a quick start, thanks to Jared Sullinger (18 points, 15 rebounds), who had his fourth double-double of the season by halftime. The C’s closed out the first half with a 54-36 lead, and then kept the pedal to the metal in the second half, outscoring the Wizards 57-42 to seal the blowout win. The Celtics forced a total of 22 turnovers, and Washington never led.

The C’s finished the night with 28 assists and 11 steals — two statistical categories that gave them a big advantage over the Wizards. They shot 43.3 percent from the floor, while limiting themselves to 15 turnovers.

“I think pulling that Sixers game out was huge,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “Playing that way over the last six minutes, not having played well for a couple of games in a row plus most of that game, and finding a way was probably good for us emotionally heading into tonight. And then I felt we had a pretty good shoot-around and then felt like we played on both ends probably as consistently for 48 minutes as we’ve played all year.”

Isaiah Thomas‘ 21 points led six Celtics in double figures. Avery Bradley scored 12 of his 16 points in the opening 12 minutes and finished with a plus-22 rating on the night. Jae Crowder added 15 points. David Lee and Kelly Olynyk each scored a dozen points off the bench. Former Boston College standout Jared Dudley led the Wizards with 19 points off the bench. Bradley Beal chipped in 16 points, and John Wall finished the night with just 10.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, NBA, Washington Wizards
Studs and Duds: Hot-shooting Celtics fly past Wizards 11.06.15 at 9:52 pm ET
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It’s the law of averages. Eventually, the shots would start falling. But no mathematician would have predicted this.

The Celtics (2-3) shot 45 percent from the field and defeated the visiting Wizards 118-98 on Friday night. Led by Jared Sullinger’s 21 points, five Celtics  finished in double figures. The C’s dominated the first half, outscoring the Wizards 72-49. It was the first time the Celtics had scored 70 in a half since the modern-day Big Three did it in 2010. They also excelled from beyond the arc, knocking down a season-high 12 3-pointers.

Bradley Beal scored a game-high 24 points for the Wizards, a fast-paced team that struggled to keep up with the high-flying Celtics. The C’s hands were extremely active on defense, forcing 24 turnovers on a season-high 18 steals.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Why Celtics won’t sign Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller to contract extensions now 11.02.15 at 2:03 pm ET
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Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger

As expected, the Celtics will not reach contract extensions with big men Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller before Monday’s deadline, according to The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach.

The NBA salary cap is expected to expand $20 million next summer, so Sullinger and Zeller have no reason to sign a team-friendly extension based on the league’s current salary structure. Likewise, the C’s have little incentive to sign Sullinger and Zeller to player-friendly deals now, because of the former’s conditioning issues and the latter’s inconsistent production.

Consider that fellow 2012 NBA Draft first-round pick Jeremy Lamb, who couldn’t crack the regular rotation in Oklahoma City for his first three seasons, is reportedly signing a three-year, $21 million contract extension two games into his Hornets career. Sullinger and Zeller should receive an average annual value of $7 million next summer if they respectively eat a handful of Big Macs for lunch every day and fall to fifth or sixth on the C’s frontcourt depth chart this season.

More likely, both will be seeking double-digit millions per season next summer, and by not offering them that kind of cash flow right now, the Celtics can monitor their progress closely now and maintain significant salary cap flexibility in 2016, when both become restricted free agents and represent $12.2 million in combined cap holds come July 1.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, NBA, Tyler Zeller
How much will Jared Sullinger play at the start of season? 10.23.15 at 9:01 am ET
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It’s the weighty question that hangs over the Celtics.

How much will Jared Sullinger contribute at the start of the season?

There are subsets to that question, as well. Like how much will he be able to contribute, what will his role be and perhaps most of all, what does head coach Brad Stevens envision as a realistic starting point when the season opens Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The 6-foot-9 power forward listed at 260 pounds played three stints Thursday in a 99-85 preseason win over the Knicks at TD Garden. His final line: 19 minutes, 6-of-10 from the field, eight rebounds and a team-high 16 points.

“I think he played at the end of the game because we wanted to throw the ball at the post and score,” Stevens said. “So obviously, there were other guys in the game that hadn’€™t played up to that point, but he had played three stints, [and] that was his third stint.”

At the start of camp, Sullinger acknowledged that his family and former NBA star John Lucas all but had an intervention to help him with his weight approaching 300 pounds and his conditioning. Sullinger can look out on the floor and see a long list of names that are fighting with him for significant playing time, names like Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko and David Lee. Games like Thursday seem to be an indication that he’s at least headed in the right direction as he builds his stamina off the bench.

“You know, time will tell how it all works itself out with minutes but I thought he did a lot of good things,” Stevens said. “As the season goes on, we’€™re always going to factor in good play. So that’€™s a good thing.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Jared Sullinger,
Stud and Duds: Undefeated Knicks top Celtics, 101-95 10.17.15 at 12:40 am ET
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James Young

James Young

The Knicks frontcourt set the tone early and prevented the Celtics from settling into their comfort zone offensively.

New York defended the paint well and forced a number of second-half turnovers, holding the C’s to just under 40 percent shooting from the floor and preventing them from getting into an offensive rhythm in a 101-95 loss. The Celtics managed a fourth-quarter comeback, but came up short when the Knicks knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers.

Derrick Williams led the charge for New York with 19 points and five rebounds, as the Knicks improved to 4-0 during the preseason. The Celtics fell to 3-1. In an encouraging sign, second-year Celtics wing James Young scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. Seeing him score is always a good sign, and this was easily his best game of the preseason.

Stud of the night: Isaiah Thomas.

In only his second start in a Celtics uniform, Thomas scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers, and dished five assists in 24 minutes. The C’s offense was at its best in transition against the Knicks, and Thomas was a big part of that, doing most of his damage on the run. In the second half, when it came to driving to the hoop and interior scoring, the Knicks’ defense made stops and prevented the Celtics from scoring in the paint.

Dud of the night: Kelly Olynyk.

After a solid outing against the Nets, Olynyk struggled against the Knicks. New York contested his jumpers and forced Olynyk to take off-balanced attempts. He finished 1-for-7 with an underwhelming line of two points and three rebounds in 11:49. Olynyk has played well early in the preseason, but couldn’t find an offensive groove against New York’s Robin Lopez, Kyle O’Quinn and Lance Thomas — much like teammates Amir Johnson, David Lee and Jared Sullinger.

Vine of the night

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was handed just the second technical of his NBA career after a no-call in the second half, when Knicks guard Cleanthony Early undercut Tyler Zeller on a fast-break dunk. Stevens didn’t think twice when he stepped onto the court to plead his case. I agree coach, that was a foul. Always great to see Stevens riled up.

Whine of the night

In his best game of the preseason, so far, Jared Sullinger still only scored five points against the Knicks, although he pulled down 10 rebounds. O’Quinn may have given Sullinger the ounce of motivation he needed to grab 10 boards, tossing the Celtics forward around the paint and even making layup attempts difficult. O’Quinn also earned a flagrant foul after sending Sullinger to the floor in the third quarter. It’s a positive sign to see Sullinger grab 10 boards, but 1-for-8 from the floor and 3-for-6 from the free throw line isn’t going to fly for a guy who was considered one of the Celtics’ biggest scoring threats entering his fourth NBA season.

Stat of the night 

The Celtics amassed 18 turnovers, while the Knicks only had seven. When the Knicks opened up a double-digit lead in the second half, the Celtics responded with a run in the third quarter. But after things got chippy between the two teams (see: O’Quinn’s flagrant foul), the Celtics made bad passes and committed a number of turnovers that led to an 88-80 fourth-quarter lead by the Knicks.

@ of the night 

Avery Bradley continues to knock down jumpers throughout the preseason, but he cooled off a bit in New York. Bradley finished 3-for-7 from the field, including one 3-pointer. It would have been nice to see him take more shots in the third quarter, but it was great to see him fill up the stat sheet. He also pulled down eight rebounds and had three assists.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Isiah Thomas, Jared Sullinger
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