The Boston Celtics will be without second-year forward Jared Sullinger when they tip off the 2013-14 NBA season Oct. 30 against the Toronto Raptors. Don't worry, though, Sully's one-game suspension won't derail the Celtics' championship dreams...mostly because they don't have any.
Chris Forsberg of ESPN tweeted the news Oct. 29:
According to a press release from the Celtics, the suspension stems from "an incident that occurred August 31, 2013."
Clearly, the C's aren't going into specifics, but the "incident" in question was an alleged domestic dispute between Sullinger and his then-live-in girlfriend, Deann Smith.
According to David Abel and John R. Ellement of The Boston Globe, prosecutors decided not to go forward after Smith made it clear she wouldn't testify against Sullinger. Absent any other admissible evidence against him, the case was dismissed.
Despite that, the Celtics are still holding Sullinger out for one game, citing what team president Danny Ainge called a failure to meet the "high expectations" of the organization. Clearly, Ainge and the Celtics confine those expectations to player conduct. If they also pertained to the team's on-court product, everybody on the roster would be sitting out against the Raptors after an underwhelming 2-6 preseason performance.
Sullinger put together a solid preseason effort with the legal distraction hanging over his head, averaging 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game. He'll be a major part of Boston's rotation as long as his conditioning allows him to log enough minutes.
With Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace all candidates to be traded at some point this season, Sullinger and rookie Kelly Olynyk figure to be key pieces in the Celtics' frontcourt of the future. The duo have a unique combination of inside and outside skills that should help alleviate congestion in Boston's offense.
It's all about the future in Celtic country. Unfortunately for Sullinger, he'll have to wait an extra game before he can be a part of it.