With the NBA trading deadline just over two weeks away, the Boston Celtics find themselves in an odd position. While the Celtics are 28-18 and have gone 18-8 since a 10-10 start, Boston has a couple of decisions to make regarding two key rotation players: Marcus Morris and 2018 playoff hero Terry Rozier.
We’ll get to Morris another time. For right now, let’s just focus on Rozier.
Rozier will be a restricted free agent over the summer, and with the Celtics seeming poised to bring back Kyrie Irving on a max contract, it’s entirely possible that Rozier will find himself in a different uniform come opening night of the 2019-20 campaign.
At the start of this season, many felt Rozier could receive a deal in the range of four years and $60 million, based largely on his playoff explosion last spring when he helped lead the C’s to a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals sans Irving and Gordon Hayward.
However, through three months of the 2018-19 campaign, Rozier’s stock has dropped, as he has struggled to find consistency in a bench role behind Irving, averaging just 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists over 22.7 minutes per game while shooting 37.3 percent from the floor, 34.2 percent from three-point range and 78.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Now, the 24-year-old has had some good games this season, but, for the most part, Rozier’s year has been more down than up, as his shot selection has been questionable and his defense does not quite look the same.
Could it be that Rozier is a bit bummed about playing in a bench role once again? That may be the case, as Rozier has looked much better in his five games as a starter this season, but because the sample size is so small, it’s unknown if that is actually the reason.
Whatever it is, Rozier is a far cry from the “Scary Terry” we saw last postseason, and it has led to a legitimate discussion on whether or not the Celtics should trade him before the deadline.
My answer? No. And here’s why: it’s not because Rozier has been so great or because he is so talented. It’s because his value is incredibly low right now to begin with.
Given the fact that Rozier will be a free agent this summer, whichever team that wants him can just outright sign him in July. Two clubs that immediately come to mind are the Orlando Magic and the Phoenix Suns, as both are in desperate need of a point guard, but why would either squad make a trade for him now when they aren’t trying to win this year anyway?
It would be pointless for the Magic or the Suns to trade other assets for Rozier in February when they can just pick him up at no cost other than the money itself five months from then, so the Celtics will be out of luck if they try to pry anything away from either franchise in a deadline deal.
As for a contending team that might have interest in Rozier? Two things. First of all, Boston is probably not going to want to help out another contender, and second, the most the C’s would be able to get from that team is a second-round draft pick, at best. Is that worth it?
Let’s also keep in mind that Rozier does have a playoff track record, so if the Celtics can find themselves in a bind in a playoff game and need some instant offense, they can always turn to Rozier, who has postseason experience.
Plus, Rozier serves as injury insurance for Irving for the remainder of this year. Last season, Rozier was vaulted into starting duty after it was announced that Kyrie would be out for the season due to a knee procedure. For a guy in Irving who has been relatively prone to injury throughout his career, it might not be all that wise to send Rozier packing, as you might need him come playoff time.
Of course, if Celtics general manager Danny Ainge can somehow find a deal with legitimate value for Rozier, he should absolutely think about pulling the trigger, so long as he isn’t sabotaging Boston’s chances of making the finals this year.
But, expecting the C’s to actually receive something of value for Rozier is nothing but a pipe dream at this point. Outside of a month-and-a-half run in last season’s playoffs, Rozier has been nothing more than decent, at best.
As a matter of fact, in four years, Rozier is yet to shoot 40 percent from the floor, and it’s not like he is so terrific in any other area where he can compensate for that. He isn’t an outstanding defender, his court vision for a point guard leaves a lot to be desired and he does not get to the charity stripe nearly as much as you would expect for a quick, explosive guard like himself.
And as for that four-year, $60 million deal many were expecting for Rozier prior to the season starting? Yeah. That’s probably not going to happen. Actually, his poor play may have brought him back into the range of re-signing with the Celtics on a team-friendly deal. That is, if Boston even wants him back next year.
You can want Boston get rid of of Rozier all you want, but the fact of the matter is that it is just not that practical and wouldn’t be worth the effort.