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Celtics’ Terry Rozier on reduced role: ‘I’m not complaining’

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Of course it’s been an adjustment, and nobody would be happy about it. Last season ended in the playoffs with Boston’s Terry Rozier breaking out — 16.5 points and 5.7 assists per game, playing more than 36 minutes a night and leading the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals. Then this season Kyrie Irving is healthy and back — and he’s the guy with his name above the title in Boston. Irving is the star and the starter. That leaves Rozier at 22 minutes a night, scoring 7.5 a night with reduced efficiency (a PER of 10.2). Rozier believes he’s a starting quality point guard, and next summer as a free agent he expects to get paid like one.

Do not, however, buy into the rumors that Rozier is complaining about his role, he told Tim Bontemps of ESPN:

“I go from starting in the playoffs to coming off the bench. … I’m pretty sure it’s not easy for nobody,” Rozier said before the team’s morning shootaround ahead of a game against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night. “But I’m not complaining. And, if you know me, I would never be the one to complain about it.

“I would never go to the media or bring out the unhappy thing. Like I said, people that know me know I wouldn’t do that. I’ve never been a selfish type of person, selfish player. You can tell the way I play I’m all about team.

“Everything will be all right. It’s not as bad as people make it seem.”

There’s a difference between saying Rozier is unhappy with less playing time and saying he’s complaining, or causing problems, because of it. Nobody could blame Rozier for being frustrated.

There have been reports that seven teams are lurking around if Boston decides to trade Rozier, something Celtics president Danny Ainge denied saying nobody has called him to talk Rozier. That’s semantics. There are more than seven teams that would move if Rozier becomes available and just because they didn’t call Ainge does not mean there is no interest.

Whether Boston will trade him is another topic. The Celtics are contenders and the favorites to come out of the East this season, and Rozier is Irving insurance in case he suffers another injury. Plus, quality backup point guards are hard to find. The Celtics may well lose Rozier for nothing next summer (unable to match the $15+ a year offers Rozier will get) but that may be the price of chasing another banner this season.

(Some speculation: If Irving does suffer another injury this season, that will give Ainge pause about maxing him out next summer. In that case, keeping Rozier may be the better, and more financially prudent, option.)

There are a lot of questions about Rozier’s future. Just don’t expect him to complain about it.

 

Knicks say they scouted Giannis Antetokounmpo in Greece

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s agent, Giorgos Panou, said the Knicks were the only team not to scout Antetokounmpo in Greece before the 2013 NBA draft.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

If the Knicks indeed scouted Antetokounmpo that thoroughly, it’s a shame they were smeared for not doing so.

Milwaukee took Antetokounmpo No. 13. New York had the No. 24 pick and kept it to draft Tim Hardaway Jr.

Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma scores 35, wins MVP, leads USA to victory in Rising Stars dunkfest

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CHARLOTTE — Nobody comes to the Friday night Rising Stars Challenge — the All-Star weekend showcase of first- and second-year stars — for the defense. Which is good, because there isn’t any. Zero. Nada. Your Saturday blacktop pickup game at the local park has guys that care more about defense than you see in this game.

What the Rising Stars has are dunks. A lot of big dunks. And some threes. Then more dunks.

For example, the Hawks’ John Collins was showing off why he was in the dunk contest, complete with a pass off the backboard to himself.

As for the game itself, the USA won 161-144 over the World.

The Lakers Kyle Kuzma raced out to 23 first-half points and finished with 35 to earn MVP honors.

“Last year I didn’t really play that hard,” Kuzma said of his first time in this game. “This year I just came out, one, I wanted to get some conditioning, and, two, why not MVP? You’re in the game. So might as well just try.”

Kuzma also broke out the windmill.

D’Aaron Fox said before the game he wanted to break the assist record for the Rising Stars, and while he fell short of that number he had 16 for the USA. Boston’s Jayson Tatum had 30 and Donovan Mitchell had 20 for the USA. Ben Simmons led the Word team of 28 points.

As for highlights, there were plenty.

Atlanta’s Trae Young hit six threes and had this dime.

He also had the play of the night, nutmegging Deandre Ayton.

Philly’s Ben Simmons had a couple of throwdowns.

The Timberwolves Josh Okogie had the putback of the night (teammate and All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns sat courtside wearing an Okogie jersey).

Hawks’ John Collins passes to self off backboard for dunk in Rising Stars

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CHARLOTTE — The NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge — the Friday night showcase of first- and second-year players during All-Star Weekend — has less defense than your lunch run pickup game at the Y. Even less than the All-Star Game itself.

Which leads to some monster dunks.

Enter Atlanta’s second-year big man John Collins, playing for the USA (vs. The World), who went off the backboard to himself for the best throwdown of the game.

That wasn’t Collins’ only quality dunk in this game.

He looks ready for Saturday’s Dunk Contest.

Report: Nuggets extend president Tim Connelly’s contract

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On the same day the Pelicans fired general manager Dell Demps, the Nuggets extended the contract of president Tim Connelly, who went to Denver from New Orleans.

Nuggets release:

Nuggets President and Governor Josh Kroenke announced today that the Nuggets have extended the contracts of President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and General Manager Arturas Karnisovas as well and also provided multi-year extensions for the entire basketball operations staff.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I don’t know whether Connelly used the threat of the Pelicans job as leverage. But he deserved this extension, anyway.

The Nuggets have only continued to rise since his previous extension three years ago.

Denver has yet to make the playoffs under Connelly, and he declared this season postseason or bust. Denver (39-18) is second in the Western Conference.

Connelly made a second-round pick so good in Nikola Jokic, it altered the course of the franchise. Connelly has done well to lock Jokic onto a five-year extension, surround him with young talent like Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez and get them a good coach in Michael Malone.

If Denver weren’t stuck barely missing the playoffs in the loaded West the last couple years, we might have been singing Connelly’s praises sooner. But his success is undeniable. The Nuggets are in great shape now and in the future, and Connelly should see that through.