Blakely: Sit Sullinger so his hand can heal

Blakely: Sit Sullinger so his hand can heal
January 2, 2014, 11:45 pm
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When you see a player who works as hard on the floor as Jared Sullinger does, you can only want for him to get every opportunity to play and play well.

He provides a presence around the basket that's unmatched by any Celtic player.

In only his second season, Sullinger has become a vital cog in this team's rebuilding efforts.

Still, it's clear to anyone who has seen him play, that he is not himself, even with 11 points and 11 rebounds in a 94-82 loss at Chicago on Thursday.

And the Celtics need to think long and hard as to whether having him play literally one-handed, is worth it.

He has been dealing with a left hand injury for more than a month that according to Sullinger, is a bone bruise along with some sprained ligaments.

Sullinger has gone without padding for the hand which works until someone whacks him on it.

He has gone with a bulky hand wrap that looks more like what you would expect an offensive lineman to be sporting.

That hasn't worked, either.

The only other solution that makes sense at this point, is to sit him down and let that hand injury heal naturally with rest.

As you can imagine, that's not what Sullinger wants to hear.

And naturally, it's not what the Celtics want to say, either.

But seeing him out there being a mere shell of the player he's capable of, because he only has one effective hand to play with, is sad.

If this were March or April and the Celtics were making a push for the playoffs, that's different.

A clear goal would then be within sight, and playing through the pain would make sense.

But come on!

Look at where this team is at right now.

They're 13-19, having lost five of their past six and yet they are very much in the thick of things in the Atlantic Division.

This team wasn't built to contend for the playoffs or a division banner that you'd never see even if they won it because as most folks know, it's all about NBA title banners around here.

And while the Celtics are nowhere close to being a title contender now, Sullinger is a guy that you could easily envision being a part of a future title-contending roster.

But there are so many other guys on this team who are questionable as to what their role will be with the team moving forward.

And as much as the absence of Sullinger might hurt the Celtics, it would provide an ample opportunity for others such as Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani to get some more consistent time on the floor.

After all, the to-do list for the Celtics this season does include developing young bigs not named Sullinger, too.

Their development has been limited in some ways because Sullinger has been really good stretches of basketball.

But lately?

Not so much.

And it has nothing to do with fatigue or the opponent or that gimpy back from a year ago that has been surgically repaired. That has not been an issue at all this season.

His left hand is hurting him, his play and to a larger extent, the Celtics.

But he is a smart, crafty player who still manages to contribute even if it's essentially with one hand.

However, the more he plays the more susceptible he is to it being a season-long injury that never fully heals.

Is it really worth it?