If Kyrie Irving leaves the Boston Celtics in free agency — as nearly everyone expects at this point — then all eyes will turn to Terry Rozier.
Rozier, a restricted free agent, wasn’t happy about his role with the Celtics this past season, which he made abundantly clear while appearing on ESPN shortly after Boston was eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks. But Irving’s departure could open the door for Rozier to become Boston’s starting point guard in 2019-20, meaning it’s probably foolish to assume Scary Terry has played his final game in a Celtics uniform.
NBA insider Chris Mannix wrote in a piece published Monday on SI.com that it would be shocking if the Celtics didn’t extend Rozier a qualifying offer this offseason. Mannix added the C’s likely will match offers up to a certain number.
So, what kind of contract will Rozier command after a disappointing 2018-19 campaign?
It’s an interesting question as this season’s struggles cooled interest in the 25-year-old, according to Mannix, who wrote the market for Rozier would have been robust had he hit free agency last summer.
“He was talked about as an $18-20 million per year player,” an executive from a team with interest in Rozier told SI.com.
That’s a steep price, obviously, but it speaks to how highly Rozier was regarded across the NBA after a breakout performance in the 2018 playoffs with Irving sidelined. The Celtics came within one win of knocking off LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to reach the NBA Finals last season, and Rozier’s effort was instrumental in Boston’s success.
We’ll see if teams — including the Celtics — remember that version of Rozier or put more stock in his failure to adapt this past season upon Irving’s return to Boston’s starting lineup.