|Jared Sullinger out for the season after back surgery||02.01.13 at 4:10 pm ET|
First it was Rajon Rondo and now Jared Sullinger. The Celtics rookie will miss the rest of the season after surgery Friday to repair his chronic back injury.
The team announced that Sullinger underwent successful lumbar disc surgery at the New England Baptist Hospital. Surgery was performed by the medical staff under the direction of Celtics Team Physician, Dr. Brian McKeon. The Celtics also announced Sullinger is expected to be ready in time for training camp for the 2013-14 season.
Sullinger aggravated his back in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s win over Sacramento. The news came just four hours before the Celtics host the Orlando Magic at TD Garden.
When Sullinger went down four minutes into Wednesday’s game, fears were raised that this was a recurrence of back problems that forced him to miss nearly half of his final (sophomore) year at Ohio State and fall to 21st overall in the NBA draft last June. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed those fears Friday. Head coach Doc Rivers said before Wednesday’s game that Sullinger was playing at a “top 5″ draft pick level.
The numbers support that. He averaged 7.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 15 games in January, and finishes the season with averages of 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He had four double-doubles, including three in January. Sullinger spent most of the season as one of the best weapons off the Boston bench but Rivers rewarded Sullinger for his development and play by moving him into the starting lineup last Sunday for the game against the Heat.
Sullinger started Wednesday and grabbed one rebound but did not score before coming out with what was first diagnosed with back spasms. He received ice treatment in the locker room and the team was hopeful he could return. Just before halftime, the team revised the prognosis and announced he would not be returning.
The story was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports Friday afternoon.
Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger will miss the rest of the season with a back injury, league sources tell Y! Sports. He will need surgery.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 1, 2013
The loss comes just five days after the Celtics lost Rondo to a torn ACL in his right knee.
|Danny Ainge ‘would like to see Paul Pierce retire as a Celtic’||01.31.13 at 5:22 pm ET|
As always, in his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Big Show, Celtics president Danny Ainge spoke openly about the state of his team. He made two things clear following Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury: 1) “It’s silly” to think they’ll be better without him and 2) Paul Pierce trades haven’t been discussed.
“He single-handedly carried us many nights, and I don’t see how people don’t see that,” said Ainge. “When people say we’re going to be better without Rondo or the team’s going to do better without him, it’s silly. He’s a great, great player, and he’s proven that time and time again. The guy’s been MVP of probably four or five series over the last five years — not just individual games here and there or triple-doubles on national TV. He’s been the best player in a series against LeBron James. He’s been the best player in a series against Derrick Rose. He’s been the best player in three games of an NBA Finals.”
Even before Rondo’s injury, Pierce’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors. His contract, which has just $5 million guaranteed for next season, seemingly makes him an attractive target around the league.
“Nothing has been talked about with Paul,” said Ainge. “Nothing is close to being done. I too would like to see Paul retire as a Celtic. That would be great. We’re all attached to Paul. He’s been great for the city, the franchise, and he’s been a true pro. Having said that, if something came up, I would talk to Paul. My job is to do what’s in the best interest of our team, regardless of my personal ties or my personal feelings with the players.”
The Celtics president claimed few teams have come calling for any Celtics outside of Ray Allen the last few years — citing the fact “nothing got close” in the recent Rudy Gay sweepstakes — and explained that none of his players have asked that they be kept in the loop about trades (again, except for Allen last season).
Ainge also said he’s not searching for point guard help right now, allowing Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa to seize their opportunity.
“We are open [to making deals] and listening, but we don’t feel pressure to do anything,” said Ainge. “Whether we win every game or whether we struggle, I think it all depends on what opportunities are presented. We want to make some change to help improve our team.”
Meanwhile, Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger left Wednesday’s win in the first quarter with back spasms. He missed practice Thursday, is undergoing tests and remains day-to-day. The issues are apparently the same ones that led to Sullinger falling to the C’s in the draft. Ainge admitted, “I’m a little surprised that it’s taken this long.”
To listen to the entire interview, visit the Big Show’s audio page.
Celtics guard Leandro Barbosa chatted with Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the team’s reaction to hearing the Rajon Rondo news, the rumors that he wanted to be traded and more Celtics topics.
Barbosa scored seven points in the Celtics’ 99-81 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night, the team’s second victory in a row since losing Rondo for the season.
It was announced on Sunday, during the nationally televised game vs. the Heat, that Rondo would be out for the rest of the season. The players did not find out the news until after the win, though.
“It was pretty sad, very sad and shock,” Barbosa said. “We saw him in the shootaround before the game, a couple of minutes before the game. He was walking and just talking about some weird pain that he had in his leg. We knew that he probably would be out that game, but not for the whole year. … We’re hoping he’s feeling OK and he gets back as soon as possible to the court.”
On Jan. 17, a report from his home country of Brazil indicated that Barbosa had asked to be traded numerous times from the Celtics, but the nine-year veteran denied it.
“It was definitely a miscommunication,” Barbosa said. “I never said that. I never said that I wanted to get traded, and if I wanted to get traded I wouldn’t be talking to the media first. I would have talked to Danny Ainge, and then after, my teammates, and then the media.
“I knew my role was going to be like that and that’s why I came to the Celtics. It was a dream come true for me and I’m happy to be here.”
With the injury to Rondo, players like Barbosa figure to receive more playing time, but he said he is simply happy to be a part of such a historic team.
“Like I said, [it's a] dream come true,” Barbosa said. “It was a team that I was always watching when I was a little kid and there was a lot of good players that [have] been around this team and I just thought that it could be a good experience for me, even though I didn’t have many minutes or opportunity to play. But it was a great situation for me to learn from the older guys and the experienced guys. So, it was great.”
|Doc Rivers: ‘Have to give [Rajon Rondo] room to do what he wants’ during injury||01.30.13 at 7:42 pm ET|
Doc Rivers believes his team is equipped to handle life without Rajon Rondo.
The first test for the Celtics is handling a Kings team that beat them like a drum in the fourth quarter of a 118-96 loss in Sacramento.
“Not really, I’d rather have him,” Rivers said when asked if coaching without his top point guard represents a unique opportunity. “But the coach in me and the players understand they don’t have him. It’s another challenge and hopefully, we’re up for it.”
Will Rondo be around the team before and after his upcoming ACL surgery?
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “I don’t ever ask. I don’t really care. I want him to do what he needs to do. It’s very hard to come to every game. I had that same injury. There are days you want to be around the guys and there are days you don’t. I think you have to give him room to do what he wants.”
Apparently, what Rondo wants right now is the very best advice before going ahead with right knee reconstruction. According to injury expert Will Carroll, Rondo is consulting the “Big 3″ of knee doctors, including Neal ElAttrache, James Andrews and Walt Lowe. ElAttrache, you’ll recall, did the ACL reconstruct for Tom Brady in 2008.
Rajon Rondo’s talking to the big three of knees: Andrews, ElAttrache, and Lowe. bleacherreport.com/articles/15039…
— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) January 30, 2013
Rivers also said one of the advantages of having Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley in the backcourt together is that they’re a more physical combo than Rondo and Bradley.
As for the Kings, Wednesday represented a chance at redemption against DeMarcus Cousins, the 22-year-old who went off for a triple-double on Dec. 30.
“He’s not athletic but he’s very [smart] and instinctive,” Rivers said in a moment of pre-game frankness.
As for the Kings, who entered Wednesday 17-29, Rivers had this assessment.
“They’re a talented, young team and there are nights when they get all activated and all together as a group and they’re really good.”
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Keyon Dooling: ‘I wont be returning this season’||at 2:58 pm ET|
Former Celtics guard Keyon Dooling, who currently serves as a player development coordinator within the organization, announced via Twitter that he will not be returning to play for the team this season.
— Keyon Dooling (@AmbassadorKD) January 30, 2013
After the C’s announced Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury, Dooling originally told The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn he’d consider resuming his playing career. Celtics coach Doc Rivers also expressed interest in adding the 32-year-old guard, although team president Danny Ainge shot down that notion.
“We don’t have anything on the trade cooker. We weren’t going to trade Rondo,” Ainge told the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy. “But I’m not going to bring someone in now who is just going to sit on the bench. We could sign a couple of players to minimum contracts, but that’s all we can do right now. We have to see whether someone becomes available through trade or free agency who can actually crack our rotation.”
It’s unclear whether Dooling could have returned, even if both parties agreed, after the Celtics waived him prior to his retirement before training camp in October. Here’s how NBA salary cap guru Larry Coon explains it.
There’s nothing binding about a player announcing his retirement. The player can still sign a new contract and continue playing (if he’s not under contract), or return to his team (if he is still under contract) and resume his career.
The only exception to this is when a player is still under contract, wants to quit, and his team doesn’t want to let him out of his contract. Under these circumstances the player can file for retirement with the league. The player is placed on the league’s Voluntarily Retired list, forgoes his remaining salary, and cannot return to the league for one year.
|Kevin Garnett doesn’t care what the naysayers think about Celtics||01.29.13 at 2:30 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett was informed Tuesday before practice that former NBA star-turned-national TV analyst Magic Johnson doesn’t think the Celtics have much of a chance to compete without Rajon Rondo the rest of the season.
“Who cares? Who cares? To be honest, who cares?” Garnett said, finishing with a devilish smile.
The Celtics began the serious business of trying to move on without their star point guard on Tuesday, holding practice as they get ready for the Kings Wednesday at TD Garden.
“Everybody knows the responsibility on most of the people,” Garnett said. “It’s not going to be one or two guys to carry this thing, or carry his load. It’s going to be a bunch of people. This is a different group. We’ll see soon. We’ll see how we react to all of it.”
“We have a system that runs a certain way. It’s predicated when guys are on in and predicated when guys are out. As long as you run the system the way it supposed to go, it’s not perfect but it never skips a beat. It’s when we don’t do things as a team we struggle. Rondo is a huge part of this team. We all know that. Like I keep echoing, it’s not going to be one or two people, it’s going to be team effort.”
Garnett admitted that the news Sunday really put him and his teammates in a funk.
“To be honest, I think everybody was in a fog almost,” Garnett said. “I think it’s kind of settling in and I think everybody is trying to put their arms around the concept that he’s actually hurt, hurt to the point where he can’t play. That’s what had everybody in a fog, even him. He came in this morning and seeing him in there was kind of unreal. The fact that it is real, everybody is going to consolidate and pick up the pieces and try to carry this thing.”
Garnett said he and veterans like Paul Pierce and Jason Terry will do what they can to help Rondo through this difficult time as he gets ready for surgery on his right knee. Rondo was at the team’s facility Tuesday but Garnett said Rondo wasn’t there to provide support to his teammates.
“I think it’s the other way around,” Garnett said. “I think right now we’re being more a support system for him, giving him what he needs, especially some of the veterans who’ve had surgery, giving him advice and expertise.”
|Paul Pierce: ‘I want to retire as a Celtic’||at 1:06 pm ET|
Since Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury, there’s been plenty of talk about trading Paul Pierce, but the Celtics captain made his plea to the media before the team’s first practice since losing their All-Star point guard.
“I want to retire as a Celtic,” said Pierce. “That’s been my longtime goal, but it’s not under my control. The organization, they make their decisions, but it’s something I’ve desired since being here so long.”
While Pierce has $15.3 million on his contract next season, only $4 million of that deal is guaranteed, so Celtics president Danny Ainge will surely be fielding phone calls inquiring about the 35-year-old. Still, responding to a question about whether or not the Celtics are already looking to fill one of two open roster spots, coach Doc Rivers said Ainge “has not brought up anything” in terms of roster changes in the aftermath of Rondo’s injury.
The Celtics did call up rookie center Fab Melo from the Maine Red Claws. Rivers also confirmed that Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger will remain in the starting lineup with Pierce, Avery Bradley and Kevin Garnett.
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