ORLANDO, Fla. — Next year’s draft is loaded and the Celtics are rebuilding, which would lead any logical soul to believe that they may well “tank” — or whatever you want to call it; “experiment” is another word that will suffice — next season.
This theory has been making the rounds, and Celtics forward Jared Sullinger seems to be more than fed up with it.
“When you have Celtics pride, you really don’t have time to rebuild,” Sullinger said after his team’s summer league game here, which he didn’t participate in as he’s still recovering from season-ending back surgery.
“You gotta play hard, you gotta play smart. I think with the veterans we have like Gerald Wallace coming from Brooklyn… and we have Jeff (Green), everybody counts us out, but we still have (Rajon) Rondo. He won a title in ’08. He know what it takes.
“And also with Kevin (Garnett) instilling the will, the power, the intensity in all of us, within that one year, especially with me, that ‘rebuild’ word we really don’t like it.”
Sullinger, who will be entering his second season, admitted that he needs to take on more of a leadership role.
“For sure, I gotta step up, gotta do a little bit more. Gotta probably play a little more. At the same time, we just want to play. Everyone’s talking about how we’re going to tank and how we’re going to do this, we just want to play and shut everybody up.”
That one season Sullinger spent with veterans — and specifically Garnett — was “vital in his development,” the forward said.
“I just think it showed me how to be a pro,” Sullinger said. “Kevin has been in this league since the Jordan era, then 2000s, he’s played every era you can play in the past 20 years. He’s shown me things. How to approach the ref, how to approach your body, knowing when to go and when to stop, and having a routine. Have a daily routine, stretching when you’re not doing nothing. Kevin taught me just the little things.”
But, new teammates or not, Sullinger said the approach to next season doesn’t change.
“Nothing changes; we just got new teammates, that’s about it,” he said. “Other than that, it’s still the same game. You still gotta put that orange basketball in the hoop and whoever has the most points wins.”