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.