Kyrie Irving’s return to the Celtics’ starting lineup last season negatively impacted Terry Rozier, who thrived throughout the previous postseason with Irving sidelined due to injury. But he failed to build on his success upon assuming a bench role for the 2018-19 campaign.
Rozier harbors no ill will toward his former teammate despite a rocky finish to his Celtics tenure, though. In fact, it sounds like the two have a solid relationship, with Rozier and Irving even exchanging texts this summer right before landing with the Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn Nets, respectively.
“A lot of people don’t know how great of a person he is,” Rozier recently told Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Abrams. “A lot of people think I hate Kyrie. And a lot of people think that me and Kyrie not cool, but we text, and I text him right before free agency. I sent him the eyes, and he sent the eyes right back, basically like you know what it’s going to be.”
Rozier averaged just 9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season after averaging 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists during the previous postseason, which ended with the Celtics losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. It was a rather significant regression for the young point guard, and his frustration was evident in interviews after the Celtics fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals in May.
The Celtics ultimately moved on from Rozier as part of an offseason shake-up that saw Irving bolt for Brooklyn. Rozier, sent to Charlotte as part of a sign-and-trade, inked a three-year, $58 million contract, while Boston landed All-Star point guard Kemba Walker.
Some NBA analysts have been critical of the Hornets investing so much in Rozier on the heels of his disappointing 2018-19 season, but the 25-year-old is relishing the opportunity to silence his doubters. He’s no longer in Irving’s shadow and figures to have a prominent role in Charlotte’s rebuild.
“I work my butt off cuz that’s all I know,” Rozier told Abrams. “I want to break the bank. I want the best deal I can possibly get after this, so it ain’t about the money. I feel it’s always going to be there. I feel like I’m a guy that deserves a lot, and I’m gonna get everything I deserve, but I’ve been in the league for four years and for me to actually get a starting job, I don’t even know what to say. I’m more excited that I can really just show my talent every night. I can show my talent, show what I’m about. To me, that’s what’s going to bring anything I want. Me just having my opportunity to go out there and show the world who Terry Rozier really is.”
Perhaps a move to Charlotte will mark the return of Scary Terry, a productive player capable of filling up the stat sheet on any given night.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images