The Boston Celtics were in an interesting position as they entered this offseason, one that many franchises around the league would have envied from afar.
In Isaiah Thomas, they have a superstar building block. Avery Bradley is an All-Defensive First Teamer. Their roster is loaded with young, hungry talent and they managed to finish fifth in the Eastern Conference last season.
Add in a plethora of draft picks and plenty of cap space, and all of a sudden, the TD Garden had plenty of appeal once again.
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They missed out on Kevin Durant - who instead now-famously opted for the Golden State Warriors - but they did manage to secure former Atlanta Hawks man Al Horford, arguably the best big man free agency this summer.
As part of inking Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract last week, the Celtics were forced to rescind a $4.4 million qualifying offer to Jared Sullinger. Boston renounced their rights to him, making the 24-year-old forward an unrestricted free agent.
Head coach Brad Stevens was clearly sad to see the Columbus, Ohio-born star head for the exit, but he knew it was a necessary decision from the most successful franchise in NBA history.
"I think Jared’s a really good player, and I think Jared will continue to be a really good player," Stevens said before watching Boston play the Phoenix Suns in the Summer League in Las Vegas. "Obviously, when we got Al, that made us make hard decisions. And the thing that stinks about that is having to move on and move forward, both for him and us.
"But he’ll do great. Jared’s one of the more talented guys being able to get the ball off the glass, and he’s got a beautiful touch and he’s a good guy, and so I think he’ll do well."
According to Stevens, he's been contacted about Sullinger almost non-stop over the past couple of days and the 6'9" Ohio State-product is bound to have a nice spread of options.
"I’m hopeful this move will benefit him as well, and I think it will. We’ll see where he lands, but I know there’s a lot of interest in him based on how my phone’s been ringing and everybody else’s, so I’m sure he’ll land where he wants to and do exceptionally well."
The Celtics also grabbed two big men in the first round of the draft this year. Both France's Guerschon Yabusele - 16th pick - and Croatia's Ante Zizic - 23- might ultimately spend next season overseas, but with the acquisition of another big man in Jordan Mickey in the second round, their collection of bigs, unfortunately, became too crowded for Sullinger.
Where will he land next? As a young man who averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a night last term, he has the potential to be a strong double-double presence for years to come.