Last season in the playoffs, Terry Rozier looked like a quality starting point guard — 16.5 points and 5.7 assists per game, playing more than 36 minutes a night with a PER of 17.3, and he led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals.
This season, he’s returned to his backup role behind a now-healthy Kyrie Irving, playing 22 minutes a night, getting fewer shots than he did last season, scoring 7.5 a night with less efficiency (a PER of 10.2). It’s not how Rozier wants to look going into a contract year. There are still plenty of teams that will throw big money at Rozier next July (north of $15 million a season), meaning Boston has to consider trading him. At least those are the rumors flying around the league.
There are at least seven teams interested in Terry right now, waiting for Boston to start seriously listening to offers, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Quietly, at least seven teams have been monitoring Rozier’s status this season, league sources told The Athletic, waiting to see if the Celtics could begin to field trade calls. The Phoenix Suns have aggressively pursued Rozier, even before firing Ryan McDonough as general manager, league sources said.
Nevertheless, Boston appears content with its roster, and who could blame them? Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and his front office staff have built arguably the deepest roster in the Eastern Conference and anywhere in the league outside of the Bay.
Boston is going to be hesitant to trade Rozier for two reasons. At the top of the list: Irving insurance. Irving has a long injury history (one reason some front offices are still not entirely convinced Boston will give Irving a full five-year max extension this summer) and if he goes down before or during the playoffs Boston will need Rozier. This is a team poised to come out of the East, but they need a quality point guard to do it.
The other reason: Boston sees itself as a contender this season and wants the point guard depth Rozier provides for playoff matchups and depth. The Celtics think they can win this year, and Rozier is part of that.
Keep Rozier, then pay Irving next summer as expected, and the Celtics will lose Rozier for nothing. That’s not a very Danny Ainge thing to do. Right now he’s keeping his powder dry, but that may change. If and when he does, there are plenty of teams ready to pounce.