Everyone in Toronto can relax, Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri has landed a pretty decent free agent. Soon after being made an unrestricted free agent by the Celtics, Jared Sullinger finds his way headed north to division rival Toronto.
Free agent Jared Sullinger has agreed to a one-year deal with the Toronto Raptors, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 11, 2016
Jared Sullinger and the Toronto Raptors have struck a one-year deal believed to be in the $6 million range, according to league sources
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 11, 2016
The deal is assumed to be in the $6 million range because, without trading a player for salary cap space, that’s all the Raptors can offer. However, Sullinger and his agent likely realize free agent monies are drying up fast and the last big man to come to Toronto for a year, Bismack Biyombo, left with a $70 million contract after helping the Raptors get to the Eastern Conference Finals. Taking less now and playing for a team that wants rebounding and defense can lead to big rewards later on.
Sullinger was an obvious choice for the Raptors as he has burned them on numerous occasions in the past. The 24-year-old big man averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in 23.6 minutes over 81 regular season games with the Celtics last season. In 12 career games against the Raptors he averaged 11.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in 24.5 minutes and he shot 8-21 from three-point range, got 12 steals and 5 blocked shots.
Last season, Sullinger pulled in 10.6 percent of the available offensive boards and 27 percent of the available defensive rebounds making him a better offensive version of the rebounding machine that was Biyombo. Biyombo pulled in 11.7 percent of the available offensive boards and 29.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds last year with Toronto, but those numbers were way ahead of his career averages. After four seasons, Sullinger actually has slightly better rebounding percentages than Biyombo did at the same stage of his career.
Sullinger does not provide the same rim protection as Biyombo, blocking the ball at about a third of Biyombo’s impressive rate, however, Sullinger grabbed steals at four times the rate Biyombo did and he uses that 270 lb body with great effect in the paint. Sullinger also has the hands and the jump shot that Biyombo is still hoping to develop some day, so opponents will no longer be able to play off of the Raptors backup big man when Toronto runs their offensive sets.
Like Biyombo, Sullinger’s minutes were slipping with the Celtics and it had become apparent he wouldn’t be back next season. He should be driven to show what he can do and used to sharing minutes with another big man which is important for chemistry as he’ll likely be backing up Jonas Valanciunas and Patrick Patterson.
Once again the ever patient Ujiri has found value for the Raptors.