Jared Sullinger’s back surgery was something the Celtics were hoping to put off until the summer, according to his agent, David Falk.
Sullinger was flagged with back issues during an NBA pre-draft examination, causing him to drop to the Celtics with the 21st overall pick. Falk said Sullinger’s condition was corrected with Friday’s surgery, and he is expected to return to basketball activities in six months.
Sullinger was examined twice by a back specialist in Philadelphia prior to the draft.
“The Celtics knew when they drafted him there was a certain level of risk that required surgery, as did several other teams,” said Falk. “Some teams treated it like he was going to have a heart attack or something. [The Celtics’] Brian McKeon is one of the most confident team doctors I’ve ever dealt with. There were so secrets, nobody was trying to hide any facts. There was a possibility that he could require surgery, but the recovery time is less than an ACL.”
Falk said the Celtics could have delayed the surgery by giving Sullinger anti-inflammatories and treatment, but wanted to take the safer approach.
“Jared’s 20 years old, to try to take a short-term risk could jeopardize his career long term. Having surgery was the most appropriate response,” Falk said. “Had he tried to continue to play and aggravate it six or eight weeks down the road, he would have missed the playoffs and the start of the season. It was a calculated decision.”
Sullinger was released from the hospital on Saturday.
“I can’t tell you I’m glad this happened. I’m not,” Falk said. “I can’t say that I’m shocked that it happened, either. We all knew this was a very possible outcome. I think that if you really put everything in perspective, the Celtics, because of a medical situation, got a player who should have probably gone in the top five picks at 21. He has to take a step backward at this point and work really hard on his rehab, but he has  games under his belt and he’ll come back completely healthy with no concerns about his back.”
The Celtics met Saturday with free agent center Greg Oden at their training facility in Waltham. Oden, who has not played since December 2009 because of recurring knee problems, is expected to return to the NBA next season. He met with coach Doc Rivers, who said the two talked about Oden’s AAU days with the Indy Heat, a team that also featured Josh McRoberts, Mike Conley, and Daequan Cook.
“I said hi to him,” said Rivers. “We reminisced about high school days when I watched him on AAU.”
The Celtics have no expiring contracts, so they would likely need to create a salary slot for Oden, who is expected to sign for more than the veteran’s minimum.
Rivers said the Celtics have seriously discussed adding players in the wake of season-ending injuries to Rajon Rondo and Sullinger, but an NBA source said they are eyeing point guards.
“What Danny [Ainge] is doing is all the [background] work right now,” said Rivers. “I’m sure this week. And he’ll come [back] with a long list of scenarios.”
Avery Bradley drew a key charge on Jamal Crawford with 26.6 seconds left in Sunday’s 106-104 win over the Clippers, which set up Paul Pierce’s clinching 3-pointer. Bradley said it was hardly the first time he’s faced Crawford. He played against Crawford in Seattle-area pickup games when Bradley was in middle school and Crawford was with the Chicago Bulls.
“Him and [Jason Terry] were in the NBA when I played both of them,” Bradley said. “It was crazy. All those guys come back. [Crawford’s] been watching me since I was young. Those guys knew what I could do even when I was in high school. I remember they had their own little scouting report on me. He’s one of the best scorers in the NBA to me.”
Paul out again
Chris Paul missed his seventh consecutive game because of a bruised right kneecap. Eric Bledsoe started in place of the All-Star, scoring 23 points with 10 assists in 38 minutes . . . Crawford was considered a game-time decision because of a nasal fracture, and wore a mask for the first few minutes before shelving it. He scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half . . . According to the Sporting News, the Clippers have contacted the Celtics about acquiring Kevin Garnett for a package that includes Bledsoe and Caron Butler. Garnett has a no-trade clause . . . Terry’s six assists tied his second-highest total of the season. He had 11 on Dec. 1 against Milwaukee . . . Garnett picked up his sixth technical foul of the season for elbowing Blake Griffin with 9:39 remaining.