WALTHAM — The Celtics Tuesday suspended forward Jared Sullinger for one game for his role in an altercation with his girlfriend in late August that led to him facing domestic violence charges.
Sullinger will serve his suspension during the regular-season opener Wednesday night against the Raptors in Toronto.
Those charges, which included assault and battery, destruction of property, and witness intimidation, were dismissed Monday in Waltham District Court after Sullinger’s estranged girlfriend refused to testify against him.
“We have higher expectations and standards, and it was a distraction to our team during an important time this summer,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Tuesday when explaining the decision to suspend Sullinger despite the charges against him being dismissed.
Later, Ainge said, “We’re trying to send a message, not just to Jared, but the rest of our players that their behavior has an effect on all of us.”
Ainge added that he and Sullinger would stay at the team’s practice facility to watch Wednesday’s game rather than flying to Canada.
Sullinger said he accepted the suspension.
“I totally understand,” he said. “We’re trying to build a culture around here.”
Sullinger also said it’s a relief that the matter is over.
“Now I can focus on basketball and get back in the swing of things,” he said.
He added later, “It really didn’t affect me, honestly, because when I come out [to practice], I really don’t think about much. But when I go back home, I remember the court date and what I have to go through and all that stuff. It was a very good learning lesson and now I can move forward from it.”
When asked what he learned, Sullinger said, “Just discipline. Honestly, and just understanding that what I do doesn’t only affect me, but affects so many other things. I just have to understand that in the long run.”
Sullinger was asked if he had done anything wrong during the altercation.
“No, honestly,” he said. “It was just a couple of mistakes by young people. But it won’t happen again.”
Sullinger added, “Honestly, things happen. You’ve just got to look forward from it. The more I [talk about] the past, the more everybody’s going to [remember] what has happened. So I am just going to try to push it behind me.”
Sullinger is a second-year forward and former first-round draft pick out of Ohio State who played just 45 games with the Celtics last season before undergoing back surgery.
He was one of the team’s most impressive players through training camp, and he averaged 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds over 20.6 minutes in eight preseason games
This week the Celtics face several deadlines for options and extensions of a few players.
Ainge again said that he has been in contact with representatives of Avery Bradley, but again Ainge would not say whether the team will sign the fourth-year guard and former first-round draft pick to an extension on his rookie deal before the Thursday deadline.
“Avery’s a big part of our future regardless of what happens at this deadline,” Ainge said.
Given previous comments by Ainge on the matter, it is expected that no extension will be reached by that deadline and that the Celtics will extend a $3.6 million qualifying offer to Bradley after the season, making him a restricted free agent.
“I haven’t really been worried about it, but if the opportunity comes where I do re-sign, I definitely would be happy to stay in Boston,” Bradley said.
Ainge also said the Celtics will pick up their third-year option on Sullinger, which is worth $1.4 million for next season – a relatively simple decision.
Ainge said that the team likely would not pick up the nearly $2.2 million option for shooting guard MarShon Brooks.
“With MarShon, we haven’t had enough chance to evaluate him in a fair way and so we probably won’t pick up his option,” Ainge said.
Ainge added that they would retain Brooks’s Bird Rights, which allow teams to exceed their salary cap in order to re-sign their own free agents.
Like Bradley, shooting guard Jordan Crawford is eligible for an extension, but Ainge said they do not plan to sign him to one at this time and that they’ll retain his Bird Rights, too.
Only an appetizer
Stevens said he knows full well that the Celtics’ opener Wednesday night will be playing second fiddle to Game 6 of the World Series between the Red Sox and the Cardinals at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox lead the series, three games to two, and can win the title Wednesday.
“I think that we may lose a few viewers around 8:07 [p.m.],” Stevens said with a laugh, referencing the scheduled start of the game.
The Celtics’ game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
“We’ll be the appetizer for World Series Game 6 — and I’m OK with that,” Stevens said. “What an awesome opportunity for them, and to bring it back here and have an opportunity to compete for a World Series title — I can’t imagine what that feels like.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.