BOSTON (CBS) — Danny Ainge has some roster trimming to do before the regular season tips off, but that hasn’t kept the Celtics president of basketball operations from trying to work out long-term deals with a few of his big men.
Ainge told The Boston Globe that he has had preliminary contract talks with the agents for forwards Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller, who can both receive extension offers before October 31.
“Obviously, those are two guys that we like moving forward,” Ainge told The Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “So, yeah, there will be more discussions with both of them, probably during the month of October.”
It’s more likely that Zeller signs a deal prior to this season, unless he wants to try to cash in on restricted free agency next summer. The 25-year-old Zeller averaged 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds last season, shooting a team-high 54.9 percent from the field. He started 59 games in his first year in Boston, appearing in all 82 regular season contests.
Sullinger, who the Celtics drafted 21st overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, played in 58 games last season, missing time with back and foot injuries. Ainge called out his conditioning during the season, though Sullinger surprised many with an April comeback from a stress fracture in his left foot that was supposed to sideline him for the season. He averaged 13.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in the regular season, and then an impressive 12.3 points and seven rebounds in 20.3 minutes per game in Boston’s four-game sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With the additions of Amir Johnson and David Lee in the offseason, along Sullinger, Zeller and Kelly Olynyk, the Celtics have a bit of a logjam in their front court. But it’s up to head coach Brad Stevens to divvy up the minutes when the regular season to come around, so Ainge will just worry about who he wants around to be part of the future of the franchise.
Newly acquired forward Perry Jones III is also eligible for an extension prior to October 31, but he isn’t guaranteed to make the Boston roster out of training camp. The Celtics currently have 16 players under guaranteed contracts, meaning Ainge will have to cut ties with at least one player before the regular season.