LAS VEGAS – With Jared Sullinger now an unrestricted free agent, the 6-foot-9 forward’s time in Boston is over. Frankly, this is the best thing for both sides.
Although Sullinger did lead the team in rebounding last season, the odds of him seeing much playing time of significance this season was slim at best.
Al Horford, a four-time All-Star, was Boston’s prized offseason signing and will immediately enter the starting lineup. He will likely be joined by Amir Johnson with the first unit. Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko will be in the rotation and provide big man depth off the bench, not to mention Jordan Mickey is a player Boston planned on trying to find a way to get on the court this season as well.
That’s five bigs not named Jared Sullinger who, barring injuries, will play this season. By allowing Sullinger to freely sign with any team he wants to (or wants him), Boston alleviates what could have been a very messy frontcourt situation.
As for Sullinger, this is the absolute best thing for him.
Sullinger will still be hard-pressed to find a multi-year deal even now as an unrestricted free agent.
However, his chances are enhanced by teams now knowing that they don’t have to worry about making an offer that the Celtics could potentially match.
Orlando went through something similar to this with Andrew Nicholson, another member of Sullinger’s 2012 draft class. Nicholson, the No. 19 pick in 2012 who went spots prior to Sullinger, is a stretch big who came on strong at the end of last season but didn’t necessarily fit into the Magic’s long-term plans.
So the Magic elected to not make him a qualifying offer which would have been comparable to the $4.4 million qualifying offer Boston made to Sullinger that has since been rescinded.
Not being signed to an offer sheet was thing for Nicholson who has since signed a four-year, $26 million deal with the Washington Wizards.
While it’s unlikely that Sullinger will get that many years guaranteed, do not be surprised if the 24-year-old inks a one or two-year deal that averages around $6 million or so per season.
A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN