Earlier this week, forward Jared Sullinger announced his decision to join the Toronto Raptors after tweeting #WeTheNorth. The signing was made official a few days later, inking a 1 year $5.6 million contract followed by a press conference held at Real Sports. Toronto was a no brainer for Sullinger, who stated winning as the main reason for signing with the only NBA team north of the border. “Money is great but when it comes to certain situations, money can’t buy you happiness” Sullinger said at the press conference. This low risk, potentially high reward signing has put a smile on Masai Ujiri, especially with other Eastern Conference teams getting better.
The Toronto Raptors are coming off their most successful season in franchise history. However, it was clear that there was a void at the Power Forward position. This is not a straight bash against Luis Scola or Patrick Patterson. Scola started 76 of the regular season games and added veteran presence to a line-up who did not have much success in the playoffs in previous seasons. Even when he was not in the game, Scola brought a positive attitude to the rest of the line-up. His locker room voice will surely be missed and Toronto wishes him nothing but the best in Brooklyn (except of course when they go head to head). Forward Patrick Patterson will likely maintain his role as a spark plug off the bench, coming into games to knock down open 3s and defend the elite big men. Rookie Pascal Siakam is far from ready for starting for a playoff contending NBA team.
It was clear that the Raptor guards carried much of the offensive load throughout the season and needed a boost at the 4 spot. Many reports surrounded Masai targeting a trade for a Power Forward since February, with rumours surrounding names like Markieff Morris, Nerlens Noel, and Paul Millsap. The addition of Sullinger should fit well with Dwane Casey’s system. In his 4th season with the Celtics, Sullinger averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in under 24 minutes per game. His consistent shooting ability from mid to long range should be an excellent complement to Jonas Valancuinas occupying the paint. Having a player to give you those extra possessions never hurts either. Toronto fans will never forget the game a few seasons ago when Sullinger finished with 25 points and 20 rebounds. Now it is hopeful he will be doing it to OTHER teams.
The Boston Celtics had high hopes for Sullinger when they drafted him 21st overall out of Ohio State. Standing 6’9 and weighing 260 pounds, Sullinger was one of the best Big-10 college players in 2011 and 2012. Hall of Fame forward Kevin Garnett mentored him throughout his NBA rookie season and even gave him the nickname “Sully”. Danny Ainge stated concerns over Sullinger’s health and stamina and officially decided not to re-sign him after acquiring all-star Al Horford in free agency. This criticism has added extra motivation to Sullinger’s offseason, as progress photos have shown that he has significantly trimmed down this summer. With the pace of NBA games seemingly getting faster every year, all players will have to be in high calibre shape if they wish to stay in the league. At just 24 years of age, there is still plenty of room for the young man to improve his game.
Welcome to Canada Jared Sullinger! Off-season team activities are scheduled to begin shortly and the Raptors are very excited to have this roster addition.