BOSTON -- Paul Pierce didn't hesitate on his answer.When asked if he thought Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger should be named to the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend in February, the team captain hardly took any time to respond."Oh yeah," he said. "I think that's like a no brainer."Formerly referred to as the Rookie-Sophomore Game, the event will feature two teams made up of both first and second-year players. Sullinger has made a strong case to be included on the roster.He ranks fourth among all rookies in rebounding with 5.9 boards per game, behind only New Orleans Hornets Anthony Davis (7.8), Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond (7.3), and Charlotte Bobcats Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (6.5). In spite of averaging less than 20 minutes per game, Sullinger has grabbed 217 rebounds, trailing only Drummond and Kidd-Gilchrist. When it comes to offensive rebounds -- a coveted skill among bigs -- Sullinger is also third with 77.The 20 year old has emerged on a team full of veterans. Unlike other rookies who were immediately given a significant role when they were drafted, Sullinger has had to earn his minutes by hustling on each possession. His contributions have helped translate into victories, matching the high quality with quantity on the box score.Sullinger is averaging 9.8 points and 9.3 rebounds during the Celtics current six-game winning streak, including back-to-back double-doubles in which he posted a total of 26 points and 25 rebounds against the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets.You look at the rookie class, I really cant even name five quality rookies thats really playing well and playing significantly for their ball club, said Pierce. I definitely think he should be there.
David Backes on the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and simulcast on CSN, tells fill-in hosts Jim Murray and Greg Dickerson there has also been some discussion with the Bruins of putting him on the wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
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BOSTON – We have all seen what Kevin Durant can do in games. He’s a near 7-footer with lethal shooting range who, on most nights, makes the game look so easy.
Still, he is often praised for his work ethic in practice and offseason workouts, something Celtics guard/forward James Young knows from first-hand experience.
Last summer, Young spent time working out in the summer with Durant, who, like Young, is represented by Rich Kleiman of Roc Nation Sports.
Durant, the top free agent on the market this summer, has narrowed his list of potential teams to play for next season to six.
The Celtics made the cut and will get a face-to-face meeting with Durant this weekend.
You can add Young to the list of Celtics who would love to call Durant a teammate.
“He would mean a lot to the team,” Young said. “He would help the team out.”
The in-game production generated by Durant speaks for itself.
In nine NBA seasons, he has career averages of 27.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocked shots per game.
But just as impressive is what the 6-foot-11 forward does out of season.
“He was focused the whole time; 110 percent,” said Young, referring to working out with Durant last summer. “I try to do that in my workouts and just go from there.”
Durant, who is expected to meet with the Celtics on Saturday, will reportedly make a decision on July 4.
The Bruins lost a number of free agents on after the market opened at noontime. None bigger than Loui Eriksson signing a six-year, $36 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks to play with the Sedin Twins.
It’s the exact level of term and salary that Eriksson said he was looking for from the Bruins in contract negotiations around the trade deadline, but the Bruins never really moved from their offer of a four-year deal at comparable money.
The Bruins will miss the 30-goal production and solid all-around, two-way play from Eriksson as he heads to the West Coast, but they also traded in a passive player in Eriksson for an in-your-face, physical leader in David Backes on a five-year deal.
Backes is much more of a Bruins-style player than Eriksson could have ever hoped to have been. That part of it is a win for a Bruins fan base that wants intensity and physicality from their players.
The Bruins also watched Jonas Gustavsson sign a one-year, $800,000 contract with Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers, Brett Connolly sign a one-year deal for $850,000 with the Washington Capitals, Zach Trotman signs a one-year deal for $950,000 and Lee Stempniak ink a two-year, $5 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after being a non-contract training camp invite with New Jersey last season.
Sweeney had maintained as late as Thursday that he was still keeping ties with many of Boston’s free agents prior to the noon opening of the free agent market, but clearly that’s changed.
“We’ll continue to have talks and sort of figure out where things may go. We’ve had talks with a number of players to see what they would like to see as the opportunity here or what we see as a fit,” said Sweeney on the Torey Krug conference call on Thursday night. “I haven’t ruled absolutely any of that out; just haven’t found common ground and obviously it gets harder and harder as we go further along in the process.”