For a season.
The Celtics and point guard Terry Rozier will not come to an agreement on a contract extension prior to Monday’s deadline, two league sources told the Globe.
According to one source, Rozier is determined to become a starting point guard in the NBA, and next summer will seek the minutes and money of a starter, perhaps in the $20 million-per-season range.
The big question now has been building for a while: Will Boston trade him? (A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston and Kurt Helin of NBC Sports discuss this and all things Boston in the latest PBT Podcast.)
It’s time to go deeper than the Danny Ainge-will-never-deal-Rozier jokes and seriously consider the possibility.
The Celtics still hold the cards. Rozier is under contract this season, and he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer.
But their team-control clock is ticking. Another team could offer him a large offer sheet Boston doesn’t want to match with luxury-tax bills looming. If Rozier takes the qualifying offer, he’d become an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And though Rozier has been a good soldier so far, he could chafe at spending yet another season as a backup in 2019-20, causing problems even before his unrestricted free agency.
Irving has pledged to re-sign next summer, and though that’s non-binding, it’s a safe bet. Rozier’s value as insurance for Irving leaving has dropped to practically nil.
Rozier will help on the court this season. He’d be a tremendous value on the qualifying offer next season. It’s possible the Celtics take that year or two of cheap production then let him walk.
But between now and the February trade deadline is the window to get peak value for him. The Suns might be desperate for a point guard, and plenty of other teams should be interested. Marcus Smart could play the position more off Boston’s bench.
It’s no surprise Rozier and the Celtics didn’t agree to an extension. They were too far apart in goals. But now that they’ll definitely let Monday’s extension deadline pass without a deal, it’s time for both sides to look more closely toward the eventuality of Rozier leaving Boston.