Jared Sullinger, who spent some time working out and talking to the Nets last August, was back at HSS Training Center Wednesday, according to a report from Hoops Habit.
The mini-camp is designed for free agents, both Americans and international players, who played overseas this season and are now free of their commitments.
The 26-year-old big man has the most NBA playing time of anyone invited — 269 games, 172 starts, mostly with the Celtics. After a foot injury in 2016, he fell off everyone’s radar and went to China, hoping to remake his career. He averaged 31 points and 17 rebounds for Shenzhen in the Chinese Basketball Association this past season. Sullinger also hit 34.6 percent from three, converting on 74-of-212 attempts or nearly five a game. He even registered a 41-point, 31-rebound, eight-assist game during a season where he played 45 games ... and had a fun experience.
From the owner to the players brought me in and treated me like one of them. Couldn’t ask for a better place to play coming off the year i had last year!!! Extremely bless for the opportunity.— Jared M.X. Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0) March 24, 2018
Of course, we’ve been here before, 11 months ago to be exact.
Back in late July and early August, rumors swirled that the Nets might sign the former Ohio State standout. He was at that point playing for Scarlett & Grey, a collection of former Buckeyes, in The Basketball Tournament. The Regional Finals took place at LIU Brooklyn, and Trajan Langdon, the Nets assistant general manager, watched him for at least one of the games that the TBT was in NYC.
“I’m at the bottom right now. I’m grinding to get to the top of the ladder,” Sullinger told NetsDaily in an exclusive interview last July. “When you’re playing the game of basketball you always have to stay in that mindset. That’s how you stay hungry. All my life it seemed like things were just given to me. Now it’s on me and I’m enjoying every second of it.”
Sullinger once averaged 12 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes per contest during a 213-game run between 2013 to 2016, but a weight issue and attendant injuries eventually did him in. Now one more year removed from his time in the Association, he’s looking for another shot.
Could the Nets be interested? There were reports that the Nets were interested before he signed in China. Sullinger’s agent, David Falk, told the New York Daily News last year that the big man is “exploring the opportunity” of signing with the Nets.
He certainly proved himself in China and the Nets have a noticeable hole in the interior, one they may or may not address in the draft. So in theory, bringing in Sullinger for next-to-nothing would help … in theory.
Sullinger has always been a contributor on the boards, and a big body. Eleven months ago, the 2012 first-round pick also said that he dropped down from 320 to 285 pounds. Now, he looks even lighter.
As rumors of the Nets interest surfaced last year and before he chose the overseas offer, it caught Sullinger, whose mother is from Brooklyn, by surprise.
“That’s a shock to me,” he said regarding the Net rumor. “I’d take advantage of it because, you’ve got all these great basketball players under one roof, so why not?”
“The situation with me is, I can’t come calling the NBA, they have to call me,” he continued, humbly. “So now I just sit back and wait until somebody makes a call. If no one calls, there’s other options. At the same time, it’s all about myself.”
As numbers would indicate, he’s clearly worked on his three-point shot, which was never good enough to break 30 percent in his best NBA season. And he has another Ohio State alumni, De’Angelo Russell in his corner.
In addition to Sullinger and Melo Trimble, who averaged 16.2 points and 5.3 assists in the G-League last year, Stinar reports that Marcus Keene, a 5’9” guard who averaged an NCAA Division I tops 30.1 ppg for Central Michigan in 2017, is in for a workout. After going undrafted last June, Keene then averaged nearly 20 points in Italian league this year.