Celtics’ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has long been made the butt of jokes for his loyalty to Terry Rozier.

Like many of Ainge’s decisions, his refusal to include Rozier in a trade for (at the time) an obvious talent upgrade in forward Serge Ibaka (then on the Orlando Magic) was met with skepticism and confusion.

Some fans, myself included, were even upset with Ainge when Rozier was taken with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. At the time, the pick felt like a reach. 

We really need to learn to trust this man.

On a national stage, Scary Terry is showing the rest of the country what Celtics fans have known for a while: The kid is a baller; and people are finally taking notice.
USA Today’s Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt named Rozier first on their list of under-the-radar stars of the NBA playoffs.

When asked about Rozier’s emergence, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the following. (Per Celtics.com’s Marc D’Amico) “I don’t know if that’s opportunity or if that’s growth, right?” and added “He’s worked hard to grow and to get better and clearly has improved every day that he’s been here.”

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Terry could be the best backup point guard in the NBA. With all due respect to Isaiah Thomas; we don’t know what he’ll look like after his hip surgery, and I doubt he would sign with a team for a role off the bench going forward.

Luckily for the Celtics, T-Ro will still be on his rookie deal for the 2018-19 season at a very team friendly $3.05 million. At the rate he’s progressing, it’s very conceivable that a team will back up the Brinks truck (sorry Isaiah) for Rozier.
With Gordon Hayward ($31.2 million), Al Horford ($30.1 million player option), and Kyrie Irving ($20.1 million) all presumably on the books for 2019-20, it could be difficult to match an offer Rozier receives as a restricted free agent.

This doesn’t even take Marcus Smart into account. Smart is set to enter restricted free agency after this season. As a fan, however unlikely it is, I’d like to see the Celtics bring Smart back on a one-year deal in hopes of winning it all next year.

Jaylen Brown still has two seasons before becoming a restricted free agent. Unless he’s part of a deal to land a superstar ala Anthony Davis or Kawhi Leonard, Brown will likely command a max contract from the Celtics going into the 2020-21 season. No one can project what the roster will look like by then; but the point is, a long-term commitment to Rozier is going to come at the cost of losing some other valuable players.

For now, Celtics fans should be more than comfortable with Rozier running the show. Even if a finals appearance is unlikely, Rozier has dominated Eric Bledsoe in the first two games of the playoffs; and has even gotten into real estate, owning valuable space inside Bledsoe's head.

Any questions regarding Terry's ability to be an everyday starter in the NBA have been answered.

Rozier should be a popular preseason pick for next year’s Sixth Man of the Year award. And with a potential giant payday looming, he will likely come back an even more improved player than the one we're already seeing.

Soon, Scary Terry will be able to buy all the spaghetti, sugar, and ranch dressing he wants.

Top photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE
Dunk photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE
Follow Jeremy on Twitter @jeremyoconnor

Jeremy O'Connor 4/19/2018 08:48:00 PM Edit
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