Push could come to shove this summer.
Rozier will be a restricted free agent. Irving will be an unrestricted free agent. Boston could keep both, one or neither.
After the Celtics got eliminated last night, Rozier discussed what he’s looking for – a team that treats him like family and invests in him. He was then asked about the Celtics and their matching rights on him.
“No comment,” Rozier said.
Maybe Rozier just didn’t want to dive too deep into the machinations of restricted free agency moments after Boston’s season ended. But that response seems telling.
Rozier also discussed the Celtics’ problems this year, via NBC Sports Boston:
Rozier, via Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports:
“I don’t give a f— what nobody say, I sacrificed the most out of anybody. I’m a top point guard in this league. I feel like it’s a fresh start, whether I’m here or whether I’m gone,” said Rozier
Rozier entered the season reportedly seeking a $20 million salary. But he had down year relative to the season prior – especially in the playoffs.
It’ll be tough for Rozier to get that much in free agency now. But if the right team likes him and wants to extend an offer sheet too rich for Boston to match, it’s possible.
The Celtics could also lose Irving and elevate Rozier to starting point guard themselves. However, Rozier surely knows of that possibility. That’s why it’s strange he shut down Boston talk like did. Maybe this season just totally soured him on the Celtics.
Restricted free agency often gets nasty. The system gives ambitious young players like Rozier a taste of freedom, but far more control to their prior teams. There’s already a glimpse of tension here, and there’s plenty of room for it to intensify this summer.