With Terry Rozier set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, the Boston Celtics rumors of potential trades for the backup guard are coming. Here are three possible trade destination.
When Kyrie Irving announced that he was committed to re-signing with the Boston Celtics in front of season ticket holders prior to the season, the writing was on the wall for reserve guard Terry Rozier.
Marcus Smart had already re-signed in restricted free agency over the summer for 4-years, $ 52-million. With Smart and Irving onboard, Boston will be over the salary cap and almost certainly paying the luxury tax the new couple of years.
With that in mind, it’s hard to envision the Celtics signing Rozier; after stepping up in Irving’s absence at the end of last season and into the playoffs, Rozier will likely fetch a deal as rich as Smart’s in the free agency market at season’s end.
Rozier is a restricted free agent, so Boston will have the right to match any offer that’s made, but he will come with a hefty price tag.
The 2019-2020 NBA salary cap is projected to be $ 109 million with the luxury tax set at $ 132 million. If Boston re-signs Irving to the max contract, and Al Horford opts into the final year of his contract (almost a sure thing, unless they work out a long-term extension), the team will be less than $ 4-million from the luxury tax.
With Semi Ojeleye‘s $ 1.6 million team option picked up, that’s less than $ 2 million from the luxury tax, before even considering unrestricted free agent Marcus Morris. Morris, however, could be retained with his Bird Rights, allowing the Celtics to go over the salary cap to re-sign him, but again, with a big cost from the luxury tax.
Unless GM Danny Ainge makes more roster moves this season, Boston will have to pay the luxury tax. Any team that pays the luxury tax in three of the last four seasons is subject to a repeater tax, which charges an inflated rate to go over the salary cap to sign players. Ainge has to consider the potential big deals looming for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum when they come due for a contact in the next couple of season, as well.
All of this is to say, re-signing Rozier will have plenty of financial implications for Boston. Is it worth it to spend that type of money to re-sign Rozier, if and when Irving and Smart are already locked up long term?
Smart is a very capable back up point guard who has the highest assist rate on the team behind Kyrie Irving and has more offensive and defensive versatility than Rozier. Meanwhile, Gordon Hayward has looked great leading the second team as a backup point guard, too.
Rozier has proven himself a knock down three-point shooter, but he doesn’t bring much else to the table. He’s attempting a career low 16 percentage of his shots at the rim this season and 40 percent of his shots come from the midrange, where he shoots a disappointing 32 percent, 18th percentile among his position, according to Cleaning The Glass.
In addition Rozier rarely gets to the rim, and he simply doesn’t have the court vision of most high-level NBA guards.
On the other hand, Rozier has shown he’s comfortable in a higher-usage role and can be a starter on a good team. The 6-foot-2 guard is an elite defensive rebounder, which makes him dangerous in transition when he can take off with the ball. He’s shown a tenacity on defense and the ability to guard elite guards and though he doesn’t have high assists numbers, he hardly ever turns the ball over.
A team in need of a point guard could absolutely benefit from adding Rozier and then having his restricted free agency rights to re-sign him in the summer after an audition in the role.
Before the season, it seemed Rozier was too valuable a player to trade unless there was an immediate haul in a trade if Boston was playing for a championship. However, with Hayward taking a lot of the ball-handling responsibilities with the bench and Smart swinging between point and two-guard, on both ends of the floor, depending on matchups, Rozier looks more expendable than ever.
The one area where the Celtics could really miss him is on the defensive end against great lead guards. As much as Irving has improved defensively this season, he still can’t hang with the best guards like Rozier can when he’s locked in. In fact, even Smart sometimes struggles with the super quick point guards that Rozier can rattle.
However, Rozier has not played with the same defensive fire this season that he has displayed his whole career and one wonders if he’s unhappy in his reduced role. If Rozier’s not 100 percent bought in, it would behoove Boston to explore the trade market for Rozier before the February NBA trade deadline.
Here’s three possible trade destinations for Terry Rozier that the Boston Celtics should explore.
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