July 11, 2016, 12:02 pm
The Toronto Raptors have been looking for some help at power forward all offseason long. After the flurry of free agency’s opening days, the Raptors have stepped forward to pick their guy out of the bargain bin.
Jared Sullinger, formerly of the Boston Celtics, is headed north. He tweeted out the announcement from his own account. While exact terms have not yet been disclosed, Woj is reporting it’s a one year deal and ESPN’s Marc Stein believes it’s worth around $6 million. Sully will provide some secondary scoring and rebounding for a Toronto team in need of 4-spot production from someone other than Patrick Patterson.
He’s far from the ideal floor spacer at just 27.6% from deep in his career but he has averaged double figure scoring for the past three seasons and could see a boost in minutes and output now that he’s out of Boston’s crowded frontcourt. It’s possible that the team asks Sullinger to work on his three point shot: they did the same with Luis Scola and he turned in a career year in terms of triples. Not to say that a similar result will occur, but Scola’s success leaves it well within the realm of possibility. If Sullinger is meant to replace the departing Scola, he’ll most certainly provide an upgrade on the glass coming off a season in which he averaged 8.3 rebounds per night, with 2.4 coming on the offensive end.
At just 24, Sullinger has been a valuable part of Boston’s rotations since he entered the league. While he has some well-publicized conditioning and weight concerns, he’s a fairly talented offensive player and a quality defender according to some metrics. At the very least, he’ll provide a tick more athleticism and quickness than the team received from Scola. He’s an upgrade on the incumbents with room to grow, which on its own makes this deal a good one even before we consider his exact role with the Raptors.
Sullinger started 73 games for the Celtics last year and could slot into the starting lineup so as not to disturb Dwane Casey’s successful bench groups, but a Sullinger-Valanciunas combo lacks the quickness to keep up with more athletic forwards around the league. He’ll likely slot into a bench role and be one of the second unit’s primary scorers. That would push Patrick Patterson into the starting lineup, possibly leveraging his strong numbers when paired with Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry.
While Sullinger might not provide exactly what Toronto needs, it’s hard to hate any one year deal; especially one that’s so reasonable in this cap environment. The team takes a low risk shot on a player who might flourish while the player joins a competitive team who needs what he has to offer. Ho-hum, just more sound work from Masai Ujiri.