Felger and Massarotti

BOSTON (CBS) — With Danny Ainge reportedly swinging a deal for forward David Lee, the Celtics now have quite the logjam in their front court.

Lee is expected to make up Boston’s starting frontcourt alongside offseason addition Amir Johnson in the fall, leaving Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger fighting for minutes. Both players were drafted by Boston, supposedly important parts of the team’s rebuild. But with the addition of two veterans, what will happen to them?

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The Lee acquisition paints a very different picture of the Celtics for Michael Felger, who wants to see Olynyk and Sullinger play more, if for no other reason than to boost their value on the trade market. But Tony Massarotti was quick to point out that despite plenty of opportunities, neither player has taken their game to the next level in Boston. Maybe adding a veteran like Lee will now make them fight for those opportunities.

“Maybe they are going to have to actually work at it to get playing time,” said Mazz. “I’m tired of Sullinger. I’m tired of waiting on it. This is going to be his fourth year. It started with his back, now it’s his conditioning. When are we going to see something?”

Sullinger was held to 58 games last season, sidelined for most of the second half by a foot injury, and Ainge actually called Sullinger’s conditioning into question after the injury. To his credit, Sullinger worked his way back by the playoffs (he was initially thought to be lost for the season), averaging 12.3 points and seven rebounds in Boston’s four-game sweep to the Cavaliers.

Lee should make the Celtics better next season, though he certainly won’t put them over the hump. That means they’re just further securing themselves in the middle of the pack — not good enough to contend for a title but not bad enough to land a top lottery pick to build around.

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But with neither Olynyk or Sullinger showing signs of getting better, Mazz said adding a veteran like Lee should give them a push to do so, now more than ever.

“I don’t like the fact they’re stuck in this middle ground, which is death in the NBA,” said Mazz. “But I also look at some of their young guys and, a year ago people were raving how Olynyk finished the previous season, but I don’t feel like he got better this year. And Sullinger to me has become more apathetic, if possible. If these guys are going to be something, you have to push them, and I don’t mind pushing them a little bit.”

Ainge’s offseason is far from done, so expect some more trades as the summer goes on. With Lee now in the mix, it’s very likely Olynyk or Sullinger will be included in a future deal.

 

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