By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
LAS VEGAS (CBS) — Boston fans will still be seeing plenty of Jared Sullinger next season. It just won’t be in a Celtic uniform. The power forward announced via Twitter on Monday he is headed north of the border to the Toronto Raptors next season, reportedly on a one-year contract worth just under $6 million.READ MORE: Dracut Woman Arraigned For Allegedly Torching 2 Police Cruisers
The deal ends an up-and-down four-year tenure for the 24-year-old Sullinger in Boston that came to an end over the weekend when the Celtics renounced his qualifying offer and Bird Rights, making him an unrestricted free agent. With a crowded frontcourt that includes new free-agent signing Al Horford, Danny Ainge opted to move on from a player that started 73 games for the Celtics last season.
“Jared’s a good kid and I’m grateful for what he gave us and I wish him well,” Ainge told Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe on Sunday. “I hope he gets a good opportunity. We just feel this is the best thing for our team.”READ MORE: 11-Year-Old Girl Struck By School Bus, Seriously Injured In Braintree
Plenty of opportunity should be awaiting Sullinger in Toronto as he attempts to prove to teams he’s worthy of a long-term commitment before hitting the open market again next summer. The Raptors lost a pair of big men in free agency (Bismack Biyombo, Luis Scola), so Sullinger will have a chance to fight for a starting job immediately. Toronto also drafted Utah center Jakob Poeltl with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft so those two should round out the team’s frontcourt rotation with Patrick Patterson and Jonas Valanciunas.
Sullinger, 24, was one of the best rebounders in the NBA last season, averaging 12.7 boards per 36 minutes and should combine with Valanciunas to provide one of the most potent duos on the glass in the NBA. Spacing may be an issue with those two playing together, given Sullinger’s lackluster range from the perimeter (27.6 percent from 3-point range) but the deal is a great value for Toronto overall with the under-market price and lack of risk on a one-year deal.
The 6-foot-7 power forward averaged 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds over four season in Boston after being taken with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The former Ohio State standout struggled with health and weight issues throughout his tenure in Boston, but did manage to play a career high 81 games during the 2015-16 season.
Sullinger sent out a thank you message to Celtics fans via his Twitter account on Monday after announcing his departure.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.