That's all for Sullinger

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That's all for Sullinger

Earlier this week, we learned that Jared Sullinger had been passed over for a spot in the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend. And upon hearing the news, the city of Boston's general reaction fell somewhere in the middle of anger and shock.

No Sully? NO SULLY?!

And then everyone got over it. After all, we were talking about the Rising Stars Challenge, a game with no meaning whatsoever, and one that we'll all declare a joke after five minutes of fast break dunks. Still, it hurt to see Sullinger get snubbed (he should have made it over Tyler Zeller). It was the principle. It was the knowledge that if anyone on this Celtics team deserved any recognition, it was the rookie out of Ohio State. He'd worked so hard. He was so ready and willing to learn. He was a sponge. He was improving by the game, and already more than capable of holding his own. He had the NBA's most devastating ass since Rick Mahorn.

Even if it didn't really matter, Sullinger deserved a spot in that game

And I just assumed he'd get there:

"But here's the good news," I wrote on Wednesday. "He'll probably make it anyways. I mean what would All-Star weekend be without at least a handful of players dropping out with injuries? We already saw it with Rondo, and it won't end there. Chances are that at least one of these nine rookies will turn an ankle or bang a knee over the next two and a half weeks."

Blah.

At this point, we'd all more than welcome a sprained ankle or bruised knee for Sullinger. We'd prefer to hear that he's going to miss a few weeks after being attacked by a pack of wild dogs. Anything but his back. Anything but the only reason that a player with his talent dropped so far in the draft. Anything but the worst-case scenario.

But that's where we are. Exactly one week after Rajon Rondo became the first player in NBA history to tear his ACL without anyone noticing, we learn courtesy of the arch angel of basketball death that Sullinger needs surgery on his once-again ailing back, and will miss the rest of the year.

What's this mean for the Celtics?

Well, Brandon Bass will likely see a bump in minutes. Jeff Green might have to play a little more power forward. They've called up Fab Melo, so maybe he'll see some run? If there was ever a time to bite the bullet and extend an offer to Kenyon Martin, you'd have to think that time is now. (UPDATE: I somehow forgot to mention Chris Wilcox. Then again, Doc has forgotten about him a bunch this year, too.)

But for right now, concerns over who will fill in for Sullinger pale in comparison to the emotions surrounding the fact that they need a fill-in at all. That it's his back. That it's going to be a long time before he is back. And the other questions: Does it stop here? Is one surgery and eight months on the shelf the only thing standing between Sullinger and a happy, healthy career? Or is this just the beginning?

It's too early to speculate. Especially since, at this very moment, optimism is hard to come by, and common sense suggests a future that no one wants to accept. Either way, life was a whole lot easier when a meaningless Rising Stars snub actually meant something.

And when all those teams who passed on Sullinger were still overly cautious suckers.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

TORONTO – The decision to stand pat at the trade deadline for the Boston Celtics was made in part because they felt that as their roster is constructed, they can hold their own with anybody.

We’re going to find out just how true that is tonight as they face a revamped Toronto Raptors team that added a couple of notable players via trade, chief among them being Serge Ibaka from Orlando.

“That was a really good trade for them,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Bringing in a guy like Serge Ibaka; a defender, a four-man that can switch out on guards. A guy that can space the floor, shoot the 3.  So that was a good addition. I’m excited to see how that’s gonna work other than tomorrow.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was also impressed with the Ibaka trade.

“That’s an improvement; there’s no question about it,” Stevens said. “Now you can play a number of different ways. He’s a really good player; he’s very agile. He’s a very good shooter. You can play him or (Patrick) Patterson at the four (power forward) the entire game now. You can play them together as a small-ball four and five (center). It gives them a lot of options on offense and defense.”

While praise for Ibaka is nothing new, you have to remember there were reasons as to why the Magic decided to give up on him so quickly, something even more hard to understand considering the assets they gave up (Victor Olidipo and a 2016 first-round pick used to select Domantas Sabonis, among others) to acquire him.

The Magic decided that they would not be in the running to re-sign Ibaka when he hits the free agent market this summer; this coming after the Thunder traded him primarily because they did not plan on giving him the near-max contract he’ll be seeking. So rather than play out this season and lose him for nothing, the Magic decided to trade him while they still could get something (Terrence Ross) in return.

While in Orlando, Ibaka averaged a career-high 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game. For his career (all prior to this season spent in Oklahoma City), he’s averaging 11.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

But he never seemed to provide the kind of impactful, difference-making play that Orlando was seeking.

And while the Celtics speak highly of Ibaka, he hasn’t been much of a problem for the Celtics this season.

In two games against Boston, Ibaka has averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Jae Crowder believes the struggles Ibaka has endured against the Celtics, are not a clear reflection of what he’s capable of doing as a player.

“For sure it makes them better,” said Crowder in describing the Raptors with Ibaka. “He’s a guy that can stretch the floor and rebound at a high rate. We know what he brings to the table.”

And those struggles we saw of him with the Magic?

“I think it was him more so than us,” Crowder said. “I give him credit because he wasn’t playing with the energy and passion he usually brings. I’ve been able to line up against him a quite a few times.  He didn’t have that passion like he did when he was in O-K-C (Oklahoma City). Maybe he’ll have it now. I know exactly what he’s capable of doing; he’s capable of changing the game with his play.”