The Celtics‘ addition of Al Horford via free agency led to the team renounce its qualifying offer to Jared Sullinger, making him an unrestricted free agency and all but closing the door on a return to Boston for the big man. Head coach Brad Stevens is sad to see Sullinger go, but hopes the split will benefit both parties, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com relays. “I think Jared’s a really good player, and I think Jared will continue to be a really good player,” Stevens said. “Obviously when we got Al, that made us make hard decisions. And the thing that stinks about that is having to move on and move forward, both for him and us. But he’ll do great. Jared’s one of the more talented guys being able to get the ball off the glass, and he’s got a beautiful touch and he’s a good guy, and so I think he’ll do well. I’m hopeful this move will benefit him as well, and I think it will. We’ll see where he lands, but I know there’s a lot of interest in him based on how my phone’s been ringing and everybody else’s, so I’m sure he’ll land where he wants to and do exceptionally well.”
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Sixers draft-and-stash forward Dario Saric is headed to the Las Vegas summer league to meet some of his future teammates, and he is expected to sign a contract with Philadelphia that will see him join the NBA for next season, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays. Saric’s deadline to opt out of his overseas deal with Andolu Efes is this Sunday, Pomoey adds.
- The Knicks viewed shooting guard Courtney Lee as the best fit for them among the available free agents at the position and believe he will be a vital part of any playoff push this coming season, writes Fred Kerber of The New York Post. “He was at the top of the list from the beginning. We like the idea of his competitive nature as player,” GM Steve Mills said of Lee. “He comes into the game wanting to defend the best perimeter player on the opposing team. We needed that type of defensive energy and ability to make shots. Just an all-around player [with a] history of starting in this league.”
- Lee was pursued by a number of teams, including the Sixers, who offered him more money than New York, but the veteran viewed the Knicks as a more enticing landing spot, Kerber relays in the same piece. “A few teams contacted. I spoke to [team president] Phil [Jackson]. I kept in contact with Joakim Noah,” Lee said. “Seeing the trade they made to get Derrick Rose, signing Joakim, discussions with Brandon Jennings, I felt the team was moving in the right direction. You already had Melo [Carmelo Anthony] and KP [Kristaps Porzingis] here. So that’s a strong core group. Thought joining this team would only increase my chances of competing in the Eastern Conference and trying to win a ring.”