Despite being in the midst of one of the more mediocre seasons in recent Boston Celtics' history—eighth in the Eastern Conference and 23-23 heading into Saturday night—the team was enjoying a solid rookie season for forward Jared Sullinger.
After being dealt a serious blow with the season-ending ACL injury to star point guard Rajon Rondo, the Celtics were devastated once again when they learned that Sullinger would be forced to undergo back surgery that will keep him out of action for the rest of the season (h/t ESPN).
As hard as it will be for the organization to overcome this injury to a key star, the long-term outcome of the surgery to Sullinger’s back will be worth it for the team.
If the surgery solves the rookie’s back issues that plagued him through college as well, Boston will have one of the most promising two-way forwards in the NBA.
Rivers told Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe how the team knew about the injury and how the organization is hoping that this surgery will only make the young star better in the long run:
We knew this could happen. We knew a month before the draft that this could happen and at some point probably would happen. We were hoping it would be a summer thing rather than in the middle of the season, but it happened now. He was playing great. I think the good news is we know he can play, and we know he’ll be a very good player, and in the long run this will make him healthier.
There was no question that Sullinger fell to the Celtics at No. 21 because of the clear issues with the health of his back, but Boston took an educated risk and it could payoff if this surgery has the long-term effects the franchise is hoping for.
Boston knew that the young star would eventually need surgery on his ailing back, but once the procedure was completed and Sullinger was healed, he would be a steal as a late first-round selection.
While this was a long-term investment, as seen by the rookie’s play in his short stint this season, Sullinger has all the potential in the world to be an elite player and the heir apparent to Kevin Garnett’s power forward position.
If Sullinger’s surgery is deemed successful in a few months and he does not need any additional procedures in the near future, Boston will have a bona fide star on their hands.
The team and the fans must be patient, though.