Forward Jared Sullinger said Boston has no plans to tank: "With Celtic pride, we don't tank." (Rocky Widner/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger offered a strong response on Sunday to those speculating that the Celtics could use 2013-14 as a rebuilding season or tank for a high pick in the loaded 2014 NBA Draft.
"When you have Celtics pride, you really don’t have time to rebuild," Sullinger said, according to ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg. "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."
The Celtics agreed to trade stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets on the night of the June draft, leaving Rajon Rondo as the team's lone long-tenured player.
Boston also replaced head coach of the last nine years Doc Rivers with 36-year-old Butler coach Brad Stevens, who has just seven years of experience as a head coach solely at the college level.
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“You got to understand, with you being a Celtic you have Celtic pride,” Celtics second-year power forward Jared Sullinger said to HOOPSWORLD. “With Celtic pride we don’t tank. You have to bleed green or else you might as well get out of town.”
“We just have to play basketball, play hard and handle our business,” Sullinger said. “That’s it. Everyone is counting us out, talking about how we might tank. We’re competitors, we don’t care about that. We just want to win basketball games.
“[Me and Coach Stevens] talked. He told me his expectations, what he wants from me and the team. He’s a great guy. Also, with where he came from at Butler, raising that program to a Top 25 team the past couple of years, it’s only a matter of time [until we see] what he can do with us.”
Sullinger, the 21st pick in the 2012 draft, averaged 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in about 20 minutes per game during his rookie season. The 21-year-old is currently recovering from back surgery after back problems limited him to 45 games in 2012-13.