Was Terry Rozier Out of Line? Absolutely Not!
One week removed from the 2018-19 playoffs, Celtics backup PG Terry Rozier goes on ESPN’s First Take and basically tells the media that if Boston’s team stays intact this off-season, he might have to go. Now, before you get all offensive or defensive about this comment, know all the facts that go into this situation. Trust me, there is more to what Rozier is saying. This article will paint you a picture of what’s going on in Roziers head. So as you are reading this, try and see things from his perspective.
It’s no secret that this was the year for the Celtics to really make a splash in the playoffs. Everything was going as planned. Boston easily swept Indiana in the first round (4-0). It honestly didn’t matter at the time if Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward were balling out or not, because they were winning. After that series, the Celtics locked down the most improbable win in game 1 against Milwaukee during the second round of the 2018-19 playoffs. The Celtics won by 22 points on the Bucks home court. It just so happened that this was one of the games that Gordon Hayward began showing some big signs of confidence. Celtics Nation went absolutely bonkers, as they should have. They were crushing the team with the best record in the entire NBA on their home court. On top of that, Kyrie Irving went off for 26 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds. It was arguably his best all- around performance in the playoffs and resulted in a blowout victory. As it stood, the Celtics were 5-0 in the playoffs, just whooped the Bucks on their court, and their two stars were looking great.
The very next game in the series, Kyrie Irving seemed to have forgotten how to play ball. He finished the game with just nine points, five rebounds, and four assists in 31 minutes of action. They lost that game by 21 points. Over games 3 and 4, Irving combined for 52 points. Only 19 of those were from the free throw line and he shot less than 38% in both games. In fact, Irving had two playoff games this entire postseason where he managed to shoot 40% or higher. That is horrific when you take into account that the very same Kyrie Irving averaged 48% from the field during the entire regular season. To make matters even worse, game 5 of this series was a elimination game for Boston and Irving finished the game with 15 points, one assist, and zero rebounds in 33 minutes of action. He shot 6-21 in this game which equates to an ugly 28.6 percent from the field. During the entire playoffs Irving shot 69-179 (38.5%).
After taking all that into account, you can see why Rozier is upset because he agreed to take a back-seat this season. He literally sat down with coach Stevens and agreed to come off the bench for Irving. Keep in mind, back in the 2017-18 season, Irving and Hayward both had season ending injuries and couldn’t play in the playoffs. Rozier was next up at PG and he played himself into the household name “Scary Terry.” If you still think it’s blasphemous that Terry Rozier spoke out, just continue reading…
During the 2017-18 playoffs, Terry Rozier averaged 16.5 points per game, 5.7 assists per game, and 5.5 rebounds per game. That might not seem too crazy and truthfully it’s not. However, Rozier was 24 years old and had never played a significant role in the playoffs before. So how did he play 18 playoff games and still shoot 40% or higher from the field in 11 of them? I understand he was shooting the ball less than Irving was, but it wasn’t by much. Rozier averaged about 15 shots a game during the 2017-18 playoffs. Whereas Irving in 2019 was averaging about 20 shots per game. So the fact that Irving averaged 21.3 points per game this year during the playoffs makes sense as he was shooting more. I fully understand that Irving has a much smaller sample size during his playoff tenure when compared to Rozierès from a season ago. However, when the sample size is smaller and it has the playoffs involved, it only means one thing. They got eliminated.
When Rozier was out there playing for Boston, they had an entirely different feel. It was much more of a team game. Irving and Hayward bogged all of that up. You see, the Celtics didn’t need a star player two years ago because they had so much talent that was willing to work together. It got them all the way to game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals in the 2017-18 season without the help of Irving or Hayward who cheered from the bench. They were so close to beating LeBron and making a championship run that year. It was Rozier’s breakout campaign and the only thing that stood in his way from becoming something bigger was unfortunately Kyrie Irving. Time passed and the next season came very quickly. It seemed like the fans had all forgotten about Rozier because a new season was on the horizon and Irving and Hayward were the headlines. Sadly, Rozier had to take a back seat and work with a low allotment of minutes all season long. At 25 years old, the whole basketball world knew who ‘Scary Terry’ was but now he was back to a bench player. He never really got to showcase his skills on a nightly basis this year. Sure, he had some big games, but it was rare when he got enough time to actually display his plethora of talents.
Flash forward to right now. After reading all of that how do you think he feels about himself now? If he got the chance to prove himself this year, he could have gotten paid this offseason. I’m talking millions and millions of dollars more than what he is going to get offered this year. He basically took a back-seat to his career for an entire season with the Celtics. It blew up in his face big time because when you take a moment to look at the this years playoff series with Milwaukee, ohh yeah, Rozier only averaged 17 minutes a game. Whereas in the 2017-2018 playoffs, Rozier averaged 17.6 points per game and shot 40% from the field. On top of that, he averaged 35 minutes per game through the seven games. So as of right now, I think that the Celtics did Terry Rozier dirty from a money standpoint. He showed all that talent and potential while looking like a PG of the future for Boston only to have him contribute 22 minutes a night off the bench the following year.
This brings me to my final point on this whole debacle. If you have the stats to back yourself up, you will get paid in the NBA. Teams won’t pay Rozier for what he did two years ago in the playoffs and at the end of the year. There is also no way that Boston will pay him a ton of money either. They’re already dealing with Al Horford’s, Gordon Hayward’s, and maybe Kyrie Irving’s massive contracts. This will force Rozier to make a decision on whether or not to leave Boston which has been his home since he was drafted into the NBA. In a nutshell, what ever Terry decides to do this year, he will be underpaid.