BOSTON -- Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger resumed light workouts about two weeks ago and is ready to begin a 10-week rehab program aimed at ramping him back up, with the goal of being 100 percent around the start of training camp.
A lumbar-disc issue forced Sullinger to undergo season-ending surgery in February, confirming pre-draft fears about the health of his back. But Sullinger is adamant that the surgery will alleviate future concerns and believes he can be even better than he showed in 45 games this season.
"Everybody says back with a question mark; you might as well put an X through that," Sullinger said Thursday morning at a Stay in School assembly at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena, where the Celtics honored 1,500 middle school students from Boston public schools. "Because I had surgery and I’m taking my time getting back right, it won’t be a recurring injury."
Sullinger, the 21st pick in last year's draft, averaged 6 points and 5.9 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game. He had ascended to a starting role with Boston before the injury derailed his first NBA season. He said the surgery should allow his game to flourish moving forward and should be viewed only as a positive.
"Honestly, when I was playing, I was playing on one leg," said the 6-foot-9 Sullinger. "My right leg was pretty much dead. I couldn’t push off, didn’t have any strength behind it. With the right leg being the way it was, and still being able to produce the way I did, I guess it sets a bit of a foundation, but mentally I know I can play better."
Sullinger said doctors gave him the OK to resume light workouts about two weeks ago after being virtually immobile -- outside of walking -- since the surgery. Team doctors and strength coach Bryan Doo have constructed a 10-week program that will ramp up Sullinger's activity about 10 percent every two weeks.
"Maybe by September or October I’ll be 100 percent -- full go," said Sullinger.
That means, as expected, there will be no summer league for Sullinger, but he said that's not a disappointment for him and he's focused on rehabbing to ensure he's on the floor when the 2013-14 season begins.
A couple of other quick tidbits from Sullinger:
* REHABBING WITH RONDO: Sullinger said he's found added motivation by watching point guard Rajon Rondo rehab from ACL surgery. "We talk off and on, just trying to get each other’s minds right. Situations like this, you go through it alone, it’s kinda tough. But when you have someone by your side that’s trying to get back to where they were as well, it really helps you out." As for how Rondo is doing: "Rondo's doing great," said Sullinger. "Right now he’s rehabbing, and doing what he’s supposed to."
* NO HINTS ON KG, PIERCE: Sullinger said he hasn't had any communication with Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett about their futures in Boston and is like everyone else who's waiting to find out whether they will be back. "I’m the same way. I'm not the GM, I’m not Danny [Ainge], so I don’t know anything that’s happening. Regardless of what they do, I support them either way." Sullinger has talked with coach Doc Rivers and said the two try to steer the conversation away from basketball. "Sometimes you just have to let people breathe. And that’s what they’ve been doing with Doc, Kevin and Paul. Just letting them be themselves because, after a while, just talking about basketball every freakin’ day, it’s really tough. I experience it all the time and I catch myself, stop myself, because at some point I’ll need a mental break."