C’s fans were overly obnoxious during the 2018 playoffs. It’s okay, they know it. Oh, and I am a Cs fan, so I can say it. We have two young studs on the wings, just beat up the hottest team in the East, and worked The Cavs to the last minutes of a Game 7. Oh, and Terry has been scarier than ever.
The dude is haunting point guards everywhere. In the span of a season, Rozier has gone from 3rd guard to “is he a starter” conversation. For good reason, too. Rozier has been putting up 17, 5 and 5. this postseason, while hitting 35% of his threes. Let’s remember that shooting percentages often drop as a team advances further into the playoffs. His defense has been spectacular as well (at least when not switched onto that Lebron guy.) Despite the game 7 shooting woes, Scary Terry has the caliber of a starting guard; something that Cs fans and management must know by now. So, what should Cs brass do with him going forward?
1. Trading Terry
Rozier’s value may never be higher. He has been straight hoopin’ and is on a good contract. Next year he will cost his team less than 4 million bucks and then he hits RFA (restricted free agency) where he should not be overly expensive. The guy will also bring along a winning culture from Boston, something that teams covet. Who could possibly be interested in dealing for the Louisville product?
In this scenario, the Knicks land their point guard of the future. Rozier is as tough as they get and a big game player, impatient fans at MSG would love him. Pairing him with Kristap makes a ton of sense. The Knicks could add a wing like Bridges or Porter, giving them a nice core going forward. Some fans (including myself) are longing for Kemba to come home. But, the Knicks may not have the cap space to sign him. The Cs land a former lottery pick who is already one of the best perimeter defenders in the League. Furthermore, he is cost-controllable, something the Cs need badly for their future. Casual fans may scream “What! Frank for Terry? No!” Yet, getting a lottery pick with tons of potential for Rozier may be worth it.
I would love to know what Clippers fans think of this one. For this trade, let’s also have the Clippers and Celtics swap their first rounders this year (13th and 27th overall.) LAC goes into next season with Rozier, the #12 and #27 picks in this draft, Harris, Williams, and Gallo. That is a low-seed playoff team in a competitive conference. They can use Pat Beverely as trade bait or let him walk to save future cap space. Also, they can resign Rozier in RFA while also maintaining cap space to bring in a big-name free agent during the 2019 summer (See Leonard, Kawhi.) The Cs get a late lottery pick and two cheap wings/guards for depth. If they could turn that pick into a rim protector, such as Robert Williams, this could be a good play for their future.
2. Extending Terry
Much of this theoretical extension depends on if the Celtics resign Marcus Smart this summer. One of the hardest RFAs to gauge, Smart can fetch anywhere from 10-15 million per season. Will the Cs match? If so, then it will be incredibly difficult to resign Rozier next year however, many believe that Cs management is willing to go into the tax if it means going to the Finals. Of course, Smart can screw everything up and except his qualifying offer to become a 2019 UFA (kudos to Zach Lowe for throwing out this theory.) What we can do now is try and determine how much Rozier will command in the 2019 RFA market.
Out of all of the teams that could have cap space to offer Rozier a hefty contract next summer (2019), only a handful of them need point guards. Those teams: Orlando, Phoenix, Cleveland, Indiana, Los Angele Clippers, Charlotte, Milwaukee and the New York Knicks. Orlando could very well draft Trae Young this year and Phoenix will likely extend Elfrid Payton. Of course, circumstances change, but as of now that leaves a handful of teams who may be looking to ink a point guard. So, what guards are free agents during the Summer of 2019?
Kemba Walker, Pat Beverley, Eric Bledsoe, D’Angelo Russell, Goran Dragic (player option), Jeff Teague (player option), Ricky Rubio, Spencer Dinwiddie and Darren Collison are all possible free agents next year. The point guard market looks fairly decent in both depth and talent. The timing for Rozier to land a manageable contract may actually be working in the Celtic’s favor. Should the Celtics cross their fingers and hope that Rozier does not demand too much money? Or, should they move on?
Wait a second, can the Celtics even afford to have Rozier on their roster? Assuming Al Horford opts into his contract, and the Celtics resign Kyrie (do not even suggest that they should let Kyrie walk and keep Rozier instead) then Boston will have 90 million committed to just three players. Yikes. Factor in Tatum and Brown’s contract, and here is what the C’s salary will look like for 2019-2020 before Rozier and/or Smart are included:
3. Letting Terry Walk
In today’s NBA, fans and pundits alike think it is a crime for a team to let a player of value walk. It is the reason Indiana traded Paul George and why Chicago traded Butler. Although both of those players had some years left on their deal, GMs shipped them off early instead of risking them leaving for nothing in return. In my opinion, this is a strategy that has been totally overblown around the League.
After threatening to make the NBA Finals, the Celtics should be the favorites from the East next year, if not the outright title favorites. Their lineup next year: Kyrie, Hayward, Tatum, Brown, Horford, Morris, Yabu, Ojeleye, Theis, Smart (maybe), Rozier and the 27th overall draft pick. With Brad Stevens at the helm, would anyone be surprised if the Celtics brought home a banner next year? Certainly not. And Rozier figures to be an integral part of that. If keeping Rozier brings you that much closer to a title, shouldn’t you keep him around? In other words, if the price of winning a title means losing Rozier the season after (for nothing in return) isn’t it worth it?
Something we need to learn in sports, is that it can be okay to let good players walk. Everything is circumstantial. Is there a trade out there that replaces Rozier’s current impact on the this team? Can they swap him for someone and improve or maintain their chances of winning a title? Probably not. Ultimately, the Celtics have to choice to make. My bet is that they resign Smart, go all in for a title next year, then thank Rozier for his service.