Nearly a month after his season was shut down, Jared Sullinger has opened up about his weight issues. Jackie MacMullan wrote a comprehensive piece today about the challenges that Sullinger is facing regarding his weight.
Sullinger has dealt with weight issues for his entire career. He came into training camp this year 20 pounds heavier than his 260 pound goal, and it only got worse from there. He reluctantly admits to topping out close to 300 pounds during this season.
Sullinger is making progress now at least. Per the article, he's already looking noticeably slimmer. But he's also making strides in how he talks about his situation. MacMullan notes how initially Sullinger chalked the injury up to "God's plan", but has come around to admitting that conditioning played a role. He's still a little hesitant about taking full responsibility though. He blames his metabolism and genetics a few times during the interview. This is a fair point to make, but ultimately it comes down to him. It's at least a good sign that he realizes the problems that his weight can pose.
Another interesting note that MacMullan included is the assumption that Sullinger will have a weight clause of some sort in his next contract. He even seems open to it. Sullinger explains
"I'm perfectly fine with that... It's not that I need it. It's the simple fact that I know what kind of person I am, and I would never get back to the weight I was [this season]."
There are a few recent examples of weight clauses in the NBA. In 2009, Sean May had $100,000 of his contract dependent on weighing under 265 pounds. Glen Davis' contract with the Celtics included a $500,000 bonus each year he made weight. Boris Diaw has a similar arrangement in his current contract with the Spurs. He earns a certain amount for making weight at three different points during the season, with the total coming to $500,000.
One of the more unusual cases in recent memory is the contract of former Laker Derrick Caracter. If he weighed under 275 pounds by training camp, then his base salary of $275,000 would increase to a fully guaranteed $473,000. This worked, as he dropped from 315 to under 275 by training camp. A 40% difference in guaranteed money is quite the incentive to stay in shape. It's doubtful Danny Ainge could include something that drastic, but the structure of Jared Sullinger's next contract will definitely be something to keep track of.
The list of recent players with weight clauses isn't exactly encouraging news for Jared Sullinger. Most of them either washed out, or were on the verge of washing out of the league. Hopefully this whole situation acts as a wake-up call for him. At this point, his career might depend on it.