If these playoffs have told us anything so far, it’s that Danny Ainge wasn’t crazy valuing Terry Rozier as he kept him out of multiple trade discussions in years past. In the 2015 Draft, Ainge selected Rozier as his Plan B after failing to move up for Justise Winslow but this choice has paid off in spades for Boston.
When Kyrie Irving had additional surgery on his knee which would sideline him for the rest of the season, Boston handed the keys of their offense to Rozier and he’s never looked back since. Before these playoffs even kicked off, Scary Terry as they like to call him averaged 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1 steal, and shot 37% on 3s (37/100).
All of the sudden, Rozier transformed from supplementary bench piece into a bonafide two-way menace averaging starter minutes and thriving in the process. And he’s only taken his play into overdrive helping propel this wounded Celtics roster past Milwaukee, including now being up 1-0 on Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Behind their unlikely playoff hero, the Celtics are still in position to make noise this year which is a strong feat for this group. However, this could be the beginning of the end for Rozier in Boston if they are still all-in on building a championship contender around Irving and Gordon Hayward because he could help assemble more long-term acumen for their imminent dominance out east.
Flipping Rozier this summer and re-signing Marcus Smart seems like their best course of option if they want to keep their core together long-term. Why this matter for Boston is the amount of trade ammunition they could receive in a separate Rozier deal before they make one more superstar trade for a name like Kawhi Leonard or someone else down the line.
Nobody would have thought this before the season, but Rozier is the Celtics’ missing piece to having the perfect stew to acquire another big name without losing much of their own. The domino effect of moving him would be rather significant soon after.
He won’t be 25 until March, so Rozier fits perfectly into the timeline of players general manager Ryan McDonough has long coveted in trades. McDonough has yet to find it yet, but Rozier might be the best fit to come along for him in a few years. Rozier also perfectly fits into the viewpoint of a guard who is ascending into a possible standout right now. With ample opportunity, Rozier should continue to do this regularly.
Here was a list I was able to gather up of players who notched at least 10 points, 1 steal, shot at least 35% on 3s, and had a true shooting percentage above 52%. I found it interesting how small of a club this was and it includes All-Stars: Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague, Ricky Rubio, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Darren Collison, Austin Rivers, and Rozier.
That right there shows you for someone who is already so perimeter oriented with a three-point attempt rate of 50.3%. Also, in these playoffs Rozier is showing off a beautiful array of playmaking of scoring ability from inside the arc.
The big question this summer for Boston will be whether Rozier is ready to head back to a role where he only averages 20 minutes next season when he has proven time and time again he’s the real deal. However, as we all know, Boston may not be willing to pay Rozier when he becomes a restricted free agent in 2019. Taking a gander at Boston’s cap sheet also shows they won’t be able to pay their 24-year-old point guard starter money.
Multiple things will likely prevent this from happening and its starts with Irving once more. He will likely opt out next summer and get his max contract from Boston immediately after. Then, Al Horford will also exercise for $30 million while they are also paying Hayward his max at $32 million annually. That’s a lot of money tied up heading into 2019-20 already, which leaves Rozier likely to hit the restricted market and fetch a contract close to $20 million a season if he proves this isn’t a one-hit wonder performance.
Also, when factoring in Marcus Smart he is a better on-court fit next to Irving when looking at the advanced numbers. It’s an overlooked factor to some, but to many this could be significant when trying to decide who could play combo best next to their franchise guard.
Irving/Smart NetRtg: +10
Irving/Rozier NetRtg: +1.8
From Phoenix’s point of view, this summer is the best time to find your point guard of the future via trade if they zoning-in on a big man at the top of this year’s draft. In Boston’s system, Rozier would not be a starter, so I don’t understand if some team called up Ainge how he wouldn’t accept a deal if it was sweet enough.
People tend to forget this, but Ainge is the best of any GM to hoard assets and then swing them at the right time. He did so for Irving and I tend to think he would ship off his prized possession in Rozier for the right package. Also, I believe Rozier wants to be a full-time starter now after what he’s done the past six weeks.
If Phoenix and Boston were to begin discussions related around Rozier, what would it look like? Well, I have to imagine Boston immediately asks for a way higher asking price to raise his initial value, but the Suns have the right ingredients to construct any deal they like. It’s a dangerous game giving more picks to a crafty executive like Ainge, but by the time Boston’s 3-4 year window is up Phoenix will be rising.
This has the possibility of being a major win-win deal for both sides as Phoenix would immediately agree to a long-term extension with Rozier upon this deal at likely a high price, but it also allows Boston even more flexibility to swing for the fences one final time. The aftereffects of an impending Rozier trade could really bring Boston closer to being maybe being on or above Golden State’s level.
If I was in McDonough’s shoes, here’s what I would propose:
Suns - Terry Rozier
Celtics - Troy Daniels, No. 16, No. 31, Milwaukee pick
Ainge will likely want Phoenix’s pick in 2021 via their Goran Dragic trade, but that is Phoenix’s best trade asset over the next few seasons. They likely will have to sacrifice their pick at the top of the second round as well, but I’m buying Rozier’s rise to being a top 15 starting point guard league-wide.
Now, Phoenix has their point guard of the future next to Booker who is an amazing fit because not only is he a plus defender but also an ever-improving shooter who’s hitting 43% of his 3s in these playoffs. Meanwhile, Boston now owns three picks that they could draft more young talent with or likely just ship it off in separate deals to fill out the rest of their roster. Daniels will win Boston a few games sharpshooting off their bench, something they have not had this season or the year before.
I’m buying the Scary Terry hype and the Suns should, too. Acquiring Rozier alongside possibly Deandre Ayton at the top of the draft is how you win the offseason rather quickly and flip the switch to winning basketball games immediately.