Value. It is the buzzword of every GM because of how powerful it can be. Anyone with the number overall one pick in a good draft year can come away with an All Star or franchise player. But with a finite number of high draft picks and a lot of GMs with rosters to fill, the importance of getting the most bang for your buck (or pick) is paramount.
Jared Sullinger represents great value for the Celtics right now. He was picked with the 21st selection in the draft 2 years ago. He's still on his rookie contract and won't be a restricted free agent until 2016 (at which time whatever team he's playing for has the right to match any offer). He's shown flashes of brilliant play and he's only getting better.
Danny Ainge could go in any number of different directions this summer and that puts everyone's future in a state of flux - including Sullinger. He could very well be a building block for years to come here in Boston. Or he could be a centerpiece in a trade that brings back an even better player or package of talent.
If He Stays
Sullinger has earned the right to see things through here in Boston. He even represents something of a bridge between the old guard. He got to play with Pierce and Garnett in his rookie year and even played in some meaningful games before he and Rondo got hurt. Following along with wjsy's "Sweat Equity" concept, it would serve Sullinger well to continue to develop and bond with Rondo, Bradley, Olynyk, and anyone else that isn't shipped to parts unknown.
He's very valuable (there's that word again) to the Celtics because he has the talent to be a starter and perhaps even a star, and he doesn't take up much room on the payroll as of yet. He does have some work to do before he gets there, but the pieces are all there and I tend to believe that he's headed in the right direction.
If He Goes
For many of the same reasons outlined above Sullinger would also be a sought after commodity on the trade market. Many have salivated at the concept of trading for Kevin Love and the logical starting point for such talks is with Sullinger being the Al Jefferson to Love's Kevin Garnett. But there are a lot of things that would have to fall right for that sort of thing to occur. That doesn't mean, however, that Sullinger is "safe" if there's no home run trade.
Everyone is available at a price. I think we all agree that we have too many power forwards and glaring needs elsewhere. My preference would be to trade Brandon Bass for value in return that might help plug some of those holes in our roster. But the market isn't exactly yielding draft picks for "solid" NBA veterans anymore. In contrast, a rising star like Sullinger might fetch a pick and a useful player in return. Between Bass and Olynyk, the power forward spot would still be in good hands. Bass is the solid vet and Olynyk provides the upside potential.
As usual, a good deal hinges upon the draft as well. If it turns out that the Celtics select another power forward (or even a combo forward like Aaron Gordon), that might push things in one direction. If they land Embiid or a wing, that might push things another way. Things are kind of fluid right now and I think Ainge enjoys having that kind of flexibility.
Nobody knows what is going to happen with Jared Sullinger this summer, aside from working on his conditioning program. He could be set up to be a mainstay of the Celtics rotation for years. Or he could be shipped out of town to the highest bidder. He represents great value to the Celtics either way.