UPDATE: Monday, Feb. 4, at 12:58 a.m. EST by Tim Keeney
According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, the Celtics knew Jared Sullinger was going to need back surgery. They were just hoping he could delay the inevitable for a while:
Jared Sullinger’s back surgery was something the Celtics were hoping to put off until the summer, according to his agent, David Falk.
Sullinger was flagged with back issues during an NBA pre-draft examination, causing him to drop to the Celtics with the 21st overall pick. Falk said Sullinger’s condition was corrected with Friday’s surgery, and he is expected to return to basketball activities in six months.
---End of update---
Wojnarowski tweeted on Friday:
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
Sullinger, who slid down draft boards in 2012 despite being a star at Ohio State (primarily because he lacks game-changing explosiveness and athleticism), has drawn rave reviews in Boston in his rookie campaign. He may not play "above the rim," but his knowledge of the game and determination to do whatever it takes to help the Celtics have certainly been noticed.
In roughly 20 minutes per game this season, the 6'9", 260-pounder averaged 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds. He's posted four double-doubles this season, including a 12-point, 16-rebound effort against the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 9. He had just worked himself into Boston's starting lineup.
Among power forwards who have averaged at least 20 minutes per game, he's ranked sixth in the NBA in total rebounding rate, according to Hoopdata.com (slightly behind the likes of Tim Duncan, Kevin Love and Zach Randolph).
The news comes after star point guard Rajon Rondo went down with a torn ACL for the Celtics (per Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe).
Interestingly enough, with concerns about an aging roster that includes Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, it has been Boston's younger players that have gone down this season.
The injury to Rondo, in particular, sparked talk about the Celtics possibly trading away Pierce and/or Garnett before the trade deadline, given it's unlikely Boston will contend for a title this season.
It's been a frustrating season for the Celtics, ripe with its fair share of obstacles. It's too bad that Sullinger's development out on the hardwood has been stunted now too.