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All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker and Terry Rozier.  Photo via Brian Babineau

The Boston Celtics have made a lot of drastic changes to their roster this summer. One of the more notable ones was the loss of back-up point guard Terry Rozier who was traded in a sign and trade deal to the Charlotte Hornets. However, if there are still some "Scary Terry" fans out there, you won't have to wait too long to see the young guard return to the parquette of the TD Garden.
As dates continue to come out for the Celtics' 2019 preseason games, it was revealed that the Charlotte Hornets would be coming to Boston on Sunday, October 6th. As far as we know right now when it comes to the pre-season, this will be the first time in Rozier's NBA career where he steps onto an NBA court not dawning a Boston Celtics uniform.
Terry Rozier playing for the Louisville Cardinals. Photo via Maddie Meyer
Back in the 2015 NBA draft, the Celtics selected Terry Rozier with the 16th pick of the first round out of Louisville. In his final year playing for the Cardinals, Rozier averaged 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals while shooting 41.1% from the field. Early scouting reports of the 6'1" guard praised his scoring ability, confidence, and grit while at the same time showed concerns towards his inefficiency with the ball and his inconsistent shooting. All of these notes, both good and bad, are things Celtics' fans can very much attest to.

Terry Rozier as a rookie for the Boston Celtics. Photo via Chris Szagola
As primarily a back-up point guard for the Celtics' his whole career, Rozier averages exactly 20 minutes a game on the dot. His role has almost always been to back-up an all-star point guard, that being either Isaiah Thomas or Kyrie Irving. Despite this, Rozier's improvement every year was very noticeable. It peaked towards the end of the 2018 season when Irving went down with a season-ending injury while the Celtics were in contention for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.

Having to step in and fill the role of the injured all-star, Rozier played a major part in the Celtics' going to game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, earning the nickname "Scary Terry." He averaged 16.5 points, 5.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals. He also shot a 40% and 34% from the three-point line.

Although they were not able to seal the deal in Boston and make it to the Finals, the confidence of the extremely young Celtics' such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier rocketed sky-high in the absence of their all-star players and they planned to come back next year better than ever.

Coming off their game 7 finale in 2018, the Celtics were very much the favorites to come out of the East in 2019 with the return of not only Kyrie Irving but small forward Gordon Hayward as well. Along with this, many viewed the fact that Terry Rozier, fresh off of proving himself a starting-caliber point guard, coming off the bench would be an extremely valuable asset towards the Celtic's depth. With Rozier having just one year left on his contract with the Celtics, his play would also contribute towards whether or not he would sign a major contract elsewhere in the free agency market that summer.

Unfortunately, things didn't really work out in favor of either party for various reasons. Struggling in his role of the bench, Rozier only managed to average 9 points, 2.9 assists, and 3.9 rebounds. He shot 38.7% overall and 35% from three.
2019 Celtics point guards Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier. Photo via Dylan Buell

While these stats are not that much worse than his regular-season averages from 2018, the negative differences were very noticeable when compared to his play in the playoffs. Any Celtics fan watching the game could see Rozier's play change drastically due to his shot selection and overall effort on both ends of the court. While he seemed slightly more energetic in some points towards the end of the season and the playoffs, Rozier never got back to his old self and both the Celtics and Terry ended up facing the consequences.

With a second-round exit in the 2019 Eastern Conference playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Celtics went into the offseason with the idea looming that star Kyrie Irving would be leaving in free agency after the disappointment that was the 2019 season. With Rozier's contract ending as well, it didn't take long for the 25-year-old to share his headline-worthy thoughts on the Celtics', their play last season, and his plans moving forward.

In an interview with Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill just a day after the Celtics were knocked out by the Bucks, Terry Rozier spoke on his frustrations with the team and his role saying:
"I don't give a f--- what nobody say, I sacrificed the most out of anybody. I'm a top point guard in this league. I feel like it's a fresh start, whether I'm here or whether I'm gone."
Not even a week later, Rozier appeared on ESPN's morning debate show First Take where he revisited the comments and had this to say: On the same program, Rozier was later asked by ESPN personality, radio host and long-time sports journalist Stephen A. Smith if would he come back to the Celtics next season with the same exact team as last year. Rozier laughed and responded by saying
"Nah, I might have to go. I put up with a lot this year so, you know, I said what I said after the season, I think we all know I'm not trying to step into that again."
With all of this out in the open and Rozier's play in the 2019 season being less than promising, it didn't appear the Celtics' and Rozier had a mutual interest in making a deal for his return moving forward.

Not too long after all of this Kyrie Irving would leave to go play for the Brooklyn Nets and the Celtics would complete a deal with former Charlotte All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker. As a result, Rozier would get the "fresh start" he was looking for.
While Rozier isn't making the big bucks he was aiming for, $58 million and a certified starting point guard role is not too bad. In comparison, Walker barely made that much from the Hornets in his eight seasons there, where he made the all-star team three times (total of $59 million in salary). Rozier will make that in three years in Charlotte and with the looks of the roster will have no problem getting the touches he seems to want.

So after all of this, Rozier will make his first return to the TD Garden very early in the pre-season and, to be honest with you, I have no clue what kind of reception he's in for. In between the 2018 and 2019 playoffs, Rozier went from fan favorite "Scary Terry" to a player not a lot of Celtics' fans wanted to see with the ball in his hands anymore. This tagged with all of the offseason drama creates a very interesting and mysterious dynamic between Terry Rozier and Celtics fans moving forward.
As someone who was not a big fan of Rozier's play last year, I am very much anticipating the reveal of whether or not Rozier's comments about himself will pan out in Charlotte and how Celtics' fans will react to his return to the Garden on October 6th this fall.

But what do you think? Were Rozier's comments on his sacrifice last season accurate? How do you think Celtics fans will react to his first time back as a Hornet? And how do you feel about Rozier as he moves on from his time in Boston? Let me know in the comments below.

You can follow Thomas Desmond on Twitter @td_654.

Thomas Desmond 8/02/2019 04:22:00 PM Edit
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