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Celtics shore up size with Sullinger, Melo

The SportsXchange

The Celtics came into the draft needing size, and they picked up two of the best big men in college basketball in Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo.

But the fact those two were still available at picks No. 21 and 22 indicates quite clearly they do not arrive without questions. Sullinger fell in the eyes of many teams because of his back problems, while Melo is far from a finished product, and his academic ineligibility for the NCAA tournament raised concerns.

"Obviously we needed to address size," coach Doc Rivers told reporters on a teleconference from New Jersey, where he was to be with son Austin, the 10th overall pick in the draft who'll play in New Orleans.

The Celtics were reportedly hoping to grab Iowa State forward Royce White, but he was removed from the board by Houston at No. 16. According to Rivers, the C's may have gotten luckier than anyone thinks.

"The fact that number one, Jared Sullinger fell to us, is just fortunate," Rivers said. "Last year he would have a been a top 5 pick. It gives us a rebounder, a high IQ player, a good player -- a really good player from the outside."

As for Sullinger's back issues, Rivers said, "We feel pretty good about it, or we wouldn't have taken him. Obviously we're going to have to watch him and make sure he has the right treatment all the time.

"All the doctors that we talked to gave the clearance and none of them red-flagged him. That's fine by us."

The Celtics are looking for players they can develop, and the fact neither Sullinger nor Melo will be expected to step in right away and play major minutes means the club can bring them along.

With no major free agents available to them this summer, the Celts will try to keep their veteran core together and save their cap space for another offseason. If one or both of their 2012 first rounders pans out, they will have key replacements or trading chips.
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