Player development guru John Lucas on Sullinger: “Jared still hasn’t figured out who he wants to be”

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John Lucas is a former NBA player and coach with an excellent reputation for player development (which is why the Rockets have hired him) and as a guru for guys in recovery and trying to stay clean.

Lucas is tight with newly-signed Raptor Jared Sullinger. For years Boston fans hoped for more out of Sullinger, were frustrated with his conditioning, and he never quite lived up to expectations. With him on his way out the door to make way for Al Horford, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald spoke with Lucas and the former coach was brutally honest.

“I told him, ‘People don’t trust you, and you want to be trusted. You have to give them something to trust you. You have to give them a reason to trust you. You’ve almost got to let them know,’” said Lucas, who recently was hired by the Rockets as head of player development.

“I called him when the season ended, and he said, ‘Coach, I don’t know if I can do all that work again like that.’ And I said, ‘It’s the only way you’re going to make it.’…

“Jared still hasn’t figured out who he wants to be, and when he does, he’s going to take off,” Lucas said. “He’s still fighting anybody and everybody about who knows best. He’ll give in to a point, but he won’t… let… go. And if he’d ever just let go and accept what people are telling him, I think he can be great. I love his talent. I haven’t seen a lot of guys with his talent. He’s really highly talented. He’s got 3-point range. He played well. But I think the Celtics were concerned about his weight all year.”

All year? Since he was drafted is more accurate. Which is probably why Lucas went the tough love route with his comments.

Sullinger averaged 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds a game, he’s an efficient rebounder and can play smart, but he had just a 47.6 percent true shooting percentage, well below the league average. He’s only been in the league four years, he’s just 24 years old. He could get it together.

For one year at $6 million, it was a good gamble for Toronto. We’ll see if it works out.