Although prosecutors say they intend to pursue domestic assault charges against Celtics forward Jared Sullinger despite his accuser requesting the case to be dropped, the team is standing by its former first-round draft pick out of Ohio State.
“I think Jared is a good kid, and he’s a good Celtic, and he’s a guy that we have big hopes for,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Tuesday at the Shamrock Foundation’s sixth annual Teeing up For Kids Golf Tournament at Wollaston GC in Milton. “We don’t think he’s done anything so wrong that he shouldn’t be part of our team today.”
In response to a question about whether Sullinger would face punishment from the team, Ainge said, “Well, the outcome is looking good, but we can’t talk about any of that yet. It’s still pending on the conclusion.”
Sullinger’s next pretrial hearing is Oct. 28, two days before the Celtics open their regular season against the Raptors in Toronto. The 21-year-old faces charges of assault and battery, destruction of property, and intimidation of a witness after an Aug. 31 conflict with his girlfriend, Deann Smith, who accused him of pinning her to a bed and floor of his Waltham residence.
Sullinger’s lawyer, Charles Rankin, said Smith wants the case dropped. A spokesperson in the Middlesex district attorney’s office said, “We believe we have evidence supporting the charges and we’re continuing to move forward.”
Sullinger, who played 45 games last season before having back surgery, is expected to participate when training camp begins on Tuesday.
Ainge said Sullinger has been at the team’s practice facility, working out every day, and added he doesn’t think the incident will be a distraction for the second-year forward.
“Just because, he knows the story, he knows, and someday [the public] will,” Ainge said. “But just because of the legal proceedings, it can’t be publicized and he can’t talk about it. I think he’s comfortable with where he is and what he needs to work on, and who he needs to apologize to and how he needs to move going forward.”
No Bradley deal
The Celtics have until Halloween to work out a contract extension with Avery Bradley, but the sides appear far apart on a potential deal. Ainge said nothing is imminent and that they’ll likely revisit the issue next summer.
Bradley, a 2010 first-round pick out of Texas, is in the fourth year of his rookie deal, in which he’s set to earn $2.5 million.
If the Celtics don’t offer him an extension, Bradley could become a restricted free agent next summer and could draw lucrative offers from other teams.
Ainge added that Bradley and his girlfriend welcomed their first child, Avery Bradley III, Tuesday morning. “So AB3, we’ll call him,” Ainge said. “And everybody’s doing well from what I’ve heard.”
First-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk has been limited by foot inflammation, but Ainge said the former Gonzaga standout should be fine for training camp.
Brazilian rookie center Vitor Faverani also has the same issue — plantar fasciitis — which has limited his conditioning, but that shouldn’t keep him from participating in camp, Ainge said.