New Toronto Raptors big man Jared Sullinger never really panned out in four seasons with the Boston Celtics after being selected in the first round back in 2012.
The former Ohio State standout became an unrestricted free agent this past weekend after the Celtics renounced his rights. It came on the heels of a 2015-16 campaign that saw the 6-foot-9, 260-pound power forward average 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting a paltry 44 percent from the field.
While the Celtics’ decision to move on from Sullinger might have come as a bit of a surprise, it’s important to note that they have been frustrated with his lack of conditioning and seemingly overweight frame.
Following Sullinger’s decision to sign with Toronto on Monday, former NBA head coach and current trainer John Lucas laid into the big man with some pretty strong words of criticism.
“I told him, ‘People don’t trust you, and you want to be trusted. You have to give them something to trust you. You have to give them a reason to trust you. You’ve almost got to let them know.” Lucas said, via the Boston Herald. “I called him when the season ended, and he said, ‘Coach, I don’t know if I can do all that work again like that.’ And I said, ‘It’s the only way you’re going to make it.'”
Lucas, 62, has to be considered a voice of authority here. He’s manned the bench as the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers in the past.
He’s also considered one of the foremost trainers and recovery specialists around the basketball world, working with the likes of LeBron James and Blake Griffin. This, in addition to the work Lucas has put in with Sullinger in the past.
The former NBA head coach was also just recently hired by the Houston Rockets as the team’s head of player development.
It will be interesting to see what type of shape Sullinger is in with Toronto this upcoming season. The team is surely going to be relying on him to make an impact, potentially as its starting power forward. If Lucas’ words are any indication it might be false hope.