If you take out Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Terry Rozier played like a star-caliber point guard for the Boston Celtics during the playoffs.
Filling in for an injured Kyrie Irving, Rozier averaged 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists over 19 postseason games. But with Irving set to return next season, Rozier likely will return to a place he may not belong: the bench.
However, while speaking to the media Monday morning, Rozier squashed any potential drama over Irving’s looming return.
“As far as the starting thing, I’m not really worried about that,” Rozier said, via MassLive.com. “He’s the starter. … He’s our starting point guard. I had a lot of fun leading these guys this year when I had to step up to start, so, you know, next year it will play itself out the right way.”
Rozier probably really isn’t thrilled with heading back to the bench, but at least he’s saying all the right things.
Of course, whether he’s even on the Celtics next season remains to be seen.
If Boston is moving forward with the assumption that Irving will be a Celtic for years to come, it may make a decision at backup point guard between Rozier, who will be a restricted free agent after the 2019-20 season, and Marcus Smart, who will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Rozier clearly has more offensive upside than Smart, whose impact on games is clear yet often incalculable, but he probably will seek starter-level money when his contract is up — as he should. Consequently, many have speculated the Celtics might look to sign Smart to a long-term deal and trade Rozier while his value is sky-high.
Complicating matters further is the fact that Smart believes he is worth a sizable chunk of dough.
The Celtics enter the offseason without many questions — they could return the exact same team and be just fine. But what they do (or don’t do) with Rozier and Smart will be one storyline worth following.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images