The Phoenix Suns, a team with some good young players and a desperate need for a point guard, came calling for Terry Rozier at the start of free agency — and they backed up the Brinks truck.
Rozier initially thought he was going to the Knicks, he told Jonathan Abrams at Bleacher Report, but then the Suns came in big. Rozier thought he could not turn down that Phoenix offer.
Then Michael Jordan got involved.
Ultimately Rozier went to Charlotte in a sign-and-trade that brought Kemba Walker to Boston. Rozier was given a three-year, $58 million contract with the Hornets, a $19-million-a-year gamble by Charlotte on Rozier that had a lot of people around the league shaking their heads. Rozier struggled last season behind Kyrie Irving in the dysfunctional Celtics situation, averaging just 9 points a game and not finding a role that worked (which caused him to lash out after the season). Now he has a lot to live up to.
Rozier told Bleacher Report he wasn’t sure he was going to choose Charlotte, but the presence of Jordan changed everything.
Rozier remained inclined to accept Phoenix’s bid. That was when, Rozier said, Michael Jordan, the Hornets’ principal owner, intervened. “Mike was overseas, and I can just picture him probably having a cigar in his mouth and the words he told Mitch [Kupchak], the GM, was like: ‘Get him over here. Do what you need to do to get him over here.'”
Rozier was sold. “I’d be a fool if I was to go anywhere else or turn down that,” he said. “I look at it as just a team, organization believing in me. Knowing that I want to prove myself in this league and giving me that chance is bigger than anything and [their willingness] to pay me a right amount of money, it was just big and the guy that was behind all that was Michael Jordan. It’s still surreal to me.”
Jordan still has that kind of impact.
As a side note, Rozier says he and Irving are good, no tension there.
“A lot of people don’t know how great of a person he is. A lot of people think I hate Kyrie. And a lot of people think that me and Kyrie not cool, but we text, and I text him right before free agency. I sent him the eyes, and he sent the eyes right back, basically like you know what it’s going to be.”
Rozier will have the ball in his hands and be asked to lead a Hornets roster loaded with questionable contracts: Nicolas Batum $25.6 million, Bismack Biyombo $17 million, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist $13 million, just to name a few. The roster is not without potential, but the Hornets were 30th in our summer Power Rankings for a reason.
Rozier has to prove he’s not the latest poor contract handed out in Charlotte, that Michael Jordan’s trust was deserved. It’s real pressure, but if you read the Bleacher Report story on Rozier you’ll know he’s faced far worse pressures in his life.