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Terry Rozier ‘not complaining’ about reduced Celtics role amid trade links

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier knew his playing time was going to be cut because of Kyrie Irving‘s return from knee surgery that knocked him out of last year’s playoffs.

And while Rozier’s numbers have dipped to start the season as he has returned to his prior role as Irving’s understudy, he said Thursday morning that he isn’t upset about his place in Boston’s pecking order.

“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.”

Rozier’s comments came in the wake of a report by The Athletic that as many as seven teams are monitoring the fourth-year guard. That isn’t surprising, given the Celtics are already in the luxury tax this season and have a pair of All-Stars, Irving and Al Horford, headed to free agency next summer, in addition to Rozier being ticketed for restricted free agency. If a team were to approach Rozier with a lucrative offer sheet this summer, it could get awfully expensive for the Celtics to match it.

But given Boston’s aspirations of competing for a championship this season and Irving’s checkered injury history, moving on from Rozier, who is in the final year of his rookie-scale contract, doesn’t make much sense.

To that end, Celtics president Danny Ainge shot down the possibility of a deal during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston on Thursday morning, and added that Rozier hasn’t expressed any frustrations over his role or playing time.

“I talk to Terry quite a bit, and I haven’t heard any of those types of things,” Ainge said. “I don’t know how reliable any of the sources or rumors are. Terry hasn’t shared any of those with me, and I think he would if he were feeling that way. Terry knew going in this year what his situation, what his role was going to be, and he was as excited and enthusiastic as anyone on our team for the upcoming season.

“I know for sure that Terry would love to be playing more minutes, but there’s a lot of guys on the team that would love to be playing more minutes. I feel like I have a relationship with Terry that he would come to me and talk to me or [head coach Brad Stevens] if he was really frustrated about his situation, and none of that’s happened.”

One thing Rozier did admit, however, is that he has been pressing early this season, in an attempt to maximize the minutes he is getting now that he’s back to coming off the bench. Through 10 games, he’s averaging 7.5 points and 2.1 assists, while shooting just 35.5 percent from the field (though he is making 39 percent of his attempts from 3-point range).

“I feel like I was doing that a little bit,” he said. “… I’ve been trying to watch a lot of film and find out where you can be aggressive, where you can be effective on this good team, and it’s tough.”

Rozier added that Stevens met with him after the team’s practice on Tuesday in Phoenix and told him to stop pressing and just play his game. For his part, Stevens said Rozier’s approach was reasonable for someone trying to adjust to a smaller role but still wanting to make a big impact.

“It’s probably the most predictable thing in the world, that a guy that’s gonna play a little bit less is, when he gets onto the court, gonna try to find spots quickly,” Stevens said. “And that’s one of the great things about Terry. He’s competitive, he’s tough, he wants to impact the game, and sometimes when you’re playing less you figure the best way to do that is be ultra-aggressive right out of the gate instead of letting the game and the easy play come to you.

“That’s something that’s hard to adjust to, and I think anybody would be struggling to adjust to. So I’m not surprised at all that that’s part of it and also one of the reasons why I’m not gonna stop playing him the way he’s playing.

“He’ll get through this and he’ll be great, because of who he is.”

As for the idea that as many as seven teams are monitoring his status, Rozier — who never lacks for confidence — couldn’t help but have some fun with the idea when the topic was broached with him.

“That’s how it should be,” Rozier said with a smile, before adding, “There should be more.”

“I’m just blessed,” he said. “I’m just blessed to put on this uniform and represent this organization every day. I have no complaints at all.”

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