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Sullinger: We Have Celtic Pride, Won’t Tank
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On July 7, 2013 @ 2:40 pm In Main Page,NBA,NBA Summer League | No Comments
Boston Celtics fans may want to hold off on having custom Andrew Wiggins jerseys made in preparation for winning the 2014 NBA Draft lottery.
No, not because the last time they did that with Tim Duncan in 1997 they ended up heartbroken – but because there isn’t a Celtic onboard with the idea of tanking the season, no matter how great the benefits may be.
“You got to understand, with you being a Celtic you have Celtic pride,” Celtics second-year power forward Jared Sullinger said to HOOPSWORLD. “With Celtic pride we don’t tank. You have to bleed green or else you might as well get out of town.”
The Celtics are two days away from the trading of veteran forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets for a combination of expiring contracts, draft picks and Gerald Wallace. They recently hired former Butler head coach Brad Stevens to be their next head coach, giving him a six-year deal worth $22 million. All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo’s status is currently up in the air as well. The Celtics have publicly stated that they have no plans to trade Rondo and want to build around him, but that hasn’t stopped teams from calling and trying to offer a deal good enough to pry him away.
All signs point to the Celtics being in full-blown rebuilding mode, but Sullinger still believes in the team’s potential.
“We just have to play basketball, play hard and handle our business,” Sullinger said. “That’s it. Everyone is counting us out, talking about how we might tank. We’re competitors, we don’t care about that. We just want to win basketball games.
“[Me and Coach Stevens] talked. He told me his expectations, what he wants from me and the team. He’s a great guy. Also, with where he came from at Butler, raising that program to a Top 25 team the past couple of years, it’s only a matter of time [until we see] what he can do with us.”
Sullinger’s rookie campaign was limited to 45 games due to a back injury that required surgery. The injury is preventing him from participating in the 2013 Orlando Summer League. However, he’s progressed well.
“You’ll see me on the court,” Sullinger said. “That’s pretty much is self-explanatory.”
When he does return, Sullinger will have big shoes to fill. He could be replacing Garnett, his mentor, in the starting lineup and relied on much more than he was as a rookie.
Just like there are doubters over how good the Celtics can realistically be next season, there are also those who question whether or not Sullinger can be a productive starter in the league or live up to the high expectations that followed him after a dominant career at Ohio State.
“It’s been like that my whole life,” Sullinger said. “One moment I can’t do this, I can’t do that, I’m not athletic enough, I can’t play. Now we’re going to tank a season? It’s only a matter of time before we’re going to try to put all these doubters to shame.”
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