In a season filled with turbulence, the Celtics still manage to take out top-tier teams to remain deep into the playoffs. Despite an off-season filled with drama, trades and free agent signings, the C’s put themselves in place to remain as one of the NBA’s elite. With two wins away from the Finals, the possibility of hanging banner #18 is looking more likely. How did this all happen? No Irving, no Hayward, an aging big man, and too much inexperience had some thinking next year would be the year.
Wrong. Big Al has played like the anchor he is. Meanwhile, the young talent continues to producing on a All-Star level. This year could be it, as everyone on the roster has emerged as a big-time performer when it matters most.
Enter Terry Rozier. A hot-shot PG gaining a cult-like following in the city of Boston, and rightfully so. Come the summer of 2019 though, Rozier becomes a free-agent, and Danny Ainge will have a decision to make. It begs the question however, will Ainge continue the trend of trading high-caliber points guards for the future? Will he pull an IT4 and trade Irving because of the knee? Let’s talk about it.
No secret that Terry Rozier wants to start for an NBA team. He never foresaw that the opportunity would come this quickly, however.
In the 2018 playoffs, Rozier has absolutely stepped up, averaging a wild 17/6/6 for the guys in green. With that, he’s also started in all 14 playoff games. In five of those games, Rozier went for 20+ points. He passes the ball at a high level (nine games with over five assists), coupled with strong defense when the C’s need a stop.
Terry has done an incredible job filling Kyrie Irving’s spot in the lineup, with seat clearing three-pointers and some nifty ball handling. Hell, he’s even formed a weird, yet enjoyable, relationship with Drew Bledsoe. Still, in Celtics Land, where Danny Ainge reigns supreme, even TR12 isn’t safe.
At this point, Rozier’s market value could hang with some of the best in the league. He’s young, can lead a team, and clearly can score the ball at tremendous frequency. But, even with 17 PPG in the playoffs, he only averaged 11/2/5 during the regular season. Make no mistake about it – during the months of March and April the dude went OFF. But, the Kyrie Irving situation allowed him to do that. Uncle Drew will be back next year (hopefully without complication), which will force Rozier back to the bench. Nonetheless, he did produce, even with Irving in the lineup, but he won’t want to do that forever.
TR n’ FA
Rozier becomes a free agent next summer, where he’ll attract curiosity and interest. Before that happens, Danny Ainge possibly could move him with the value of the PG increasing daily. Using him in a trade package could work, but the C’s would have to include another young star to make a franchise-altering move. Before TR12 potentially takes off, leaving the Celtics empty-handed, DA might consider a shake up if he can’t get him to commit to a sixth-man role. Coupling Rozier’s value and some picks, maybe a talent or two, could land a bigger name for the future if he continues this level of play.
Never get attached to a player, unless they’re Paul Pierce, and even then your heart could get shattered. The C’s have a brutal history of trading away fan favorites, most commonly elite level or franchise favorite PGs. Maybe a Danny Ainge thing, maybe “just a business.” Still, it’s hard to keep trust in a guy who would trade away his mom for a top-three pick. In theory, these moves would create a better team and make improvements for the future, which in most cases holds true. The Celtics have improved their record and core, so it appears like that formula might be working. At what expense though? Let’s take a look at some names that once donned the Celtic green, now exiled in the dungeons of TD Garden:
What a PG. Sure, had a few good guys around him, but his triple threat of passing/scoring/rebounding earned a reputation around the league. Personality problems were his ticket out of Boston, and he wound up in Dallas in a deal for essentially Jae Crowder. He’s produced handsomely for New Orleans since. Not a Kyrie Irving or an Isaiah Thomas, but still.
Wow, Danny sure hustled the league with this guy. Poor IT4. Brought to Boston in ’14-’15 because 15 PPG and four APG wasn’t enough for Phoenix to keep him around. He was acquired via trade averaging 19/5 for Boston. As an NBA “frequent flyer”, he returned in ’15-’16, and IT4 didn’t waste a minute trying to find a home. He dropped 22.2 PPG in ’15, and an astounding 28.9 PPG in ’16, and STILL didn’t earn the love of Father Danny after three years of improvement. It also didn’t matter that he alone carried Boston the entire year, including a memorable run into the playoffs.
This will always be one of those heart-breaking cases, as IT4 only wanted to fill a workhorse role for the team and find glory. After Danny found out about the bad hip, he took his horse behind the stable, and that was that.
Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce
Taking away the whole ‘old’ thing, this was just pure robbery from the Celtics. After dealing two Hall-of-Famers to Brooklyn for what would later turn out to be Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Danny made sure the Nets would never see light again. Perhaps this could be one of those “sell-high” cases, but let’s be honest. Both guys dropped production, so this infamous deal was based on names. Getting rid of Pierce was tough for Boston, but where the franchise stands today stems from that landscape-changing trade back in 2013.
So Danny wakes up one day and breaks all of Boston’s hearts and trades Kyrie. He looks at the knee, talks to the doctors, and off he goes for the future of another NBA franchise and 20 draft picks over the next five years. Unlikely? Maybe not. IT4 would be the biggest example. Notably, it isn’t first time Kyrie has had an injury, as he missed a majority of his only year in college from a ligament tear in his right toe. He also fractured his left knee-cap in the 2015 playoffs. Fast forward to 2018. A right knee surgery side-lined him for the playoffs and during points of the season. Issues like this seem to always scare Ainge, so if you love Irving now, maybe don’t get too attached.
No doubt of Kyrie’s elite PG status as one of the top ten players in the league. But as history shows, could he be the next head Danny puts on a stake outside of the Garden?
No one but D.A. knows his plans when this summer hits for the Celtics. Rozier would be an attractive piece for any team, but do displays of high-caliber play prove more of a faux pas for what Scary Terry can actually do? No doubt a main factor for the Celtics 2018 playoff run, but his run in Boston could be coming to an end. Hopefully not, because this guy is beloved by the same fans who loved similar PGs before him. Boston fans are faithful; management not so much. But hey, that’s why they say it’s a business.
If it comes down it, TR12 should really do whats best for him and his goals. Outlasting or even out-performing Kyrie Irving is no small task, yet neither is leading a team to the Eastern Conference Finals. But, here we are. Does Rozier get to spook teams from Boston another day, or will Your Grace Danny Ainge send him on his way from House Celtics? Your guess is as good as anyone’s, but no one can forecast what Boston will do. Probably not even this guy below. Here’s hoping for you, TR12.