Terry Rozier understands his role with the Boston Celtics could expand in the NBA playoffs now that Marcus Smart is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks with an oblique injury.
He also sounds like a man ready to cash in on that opportunity.
“I feel like a guy with money on the line,” Rozier said, according to MassLive.com, just days before Boston begins its first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers this Sunday at TD Garden. “When it’s time to get to it, I’ll be ready for it.”
This line of thinking makes all the sense in the world. Not only has Rozier, a key contributor for the Celtics during last season’s playoff run sans Kyrie Irving, been trying to carve out a consistent role in coach Brad Stevens’ rotation. He also quite literally has “money on the line” this postseason.
It seemed like a matter of time before Rozier would land a lucrative contract — either with the Celtics or another team — when the dust settled on the 2017-18 campaign. The talented point guard flashed his potential during the regular season (averaging 11.3 points in 25.9 minutes over 80 games) and really stepped up in the playoffs (averaging 16.5 points in 36.6 minutes over 19 postseason contests).
But despite the buzz that Rozier someday might replace Irving — should the perennial All-Star leave the Celtics in free agency — or make bank with an organization willing to provide a more significant role, the “Scary Terry” phenomenon since has faded amid a drop in production, casting more uncertainty over the 25-year-old’s earning potential.
Thus, an increased role in the playoffs with Smart sidelined could be exactly what Rozier needs to boost his stock. He’s set to become a restricted free agent this summer, and a solid showing under the bright lights could nudge a team — maybe even the Celtics — toward preparing a juicy contract offer.
“I feel like I’m more important to the series now. I’m more needed,” Rozier said, per MassLive.com. “Obviously I’m going to have to step up. I’m gonna be ready for it.”
Rozier obviously is eyeing a championship ring as the Celtics look to put a surprisingly tumultuous regular season behind them in pursuit of an NBA Finals berth. But it’s fair to assume he’s also thinking about dollar signs and what these playoffs mean for his own financial future.
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