It’s been said — or believed, at the very least — that the Celtics are at some point going to have to pick between Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier as the club’s backup point guard behind franchise centerpiece Kyrie Irving.
But if the Celtics have their say, that decision will not come this offseason, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
In a Sunday Basketball Notes column focusing on the C’s offseason, Washburn wrote that, “a team source said the Celtics want to bring back Marcus Smart and keep Terry Rozier for added depth and being a fully loaded roster next season, where they will be the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.”
Fittingly, this offseason may be the hardest for the Celtics to accomplish this goal, as the 24-year-old Smart is a (vocal) restricted free agent. Believing his worth is ‘more than $12 to 14 million per season,’ the Celtics may find themselves in a situation where an offer sheet legitimately prices them out of retaining the feisty Smart and his ‘game-winning plays.’
Celtics president Danny Ainge has almost prepared himself for this, telling 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich just last week that ‘nobody is irreplaceable’ while also saying that the Celtics would love to have Smart back for next year and beyond.
But according to Washburn, Celtics coach Brad Stevens loves Smart’s tenacity. And Ainge has Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck’s blessing to go into the luxury tax if there’s a championship quality roster on deck, meaning that a Smart extension could be accomplished if Smart buys into what the Green are pitching him this summer versus an offer sheet cash-in.
Rozier, meanwhile, will be playing in the final year of his rookie contract next season, and had an impressive postseason run featuring a team-leading 36.6 minutes, assists (5.7), and threes dropped per game (2.7) per game. Rozier also ranked third among C’s in points (16.5), fourth in rebounds (5.3), and second in steals (1.3) per game during Boston’s 19-game playoff run.
He is also a terrific insurance policy in the event of injury to either Irving or Smart.
With the Celtics expected to lose Shane Larkin to an outside team this offseason — and given how difficult it’s seemingly become to find legitimate point guard depth — there’s no doubt that the C’s will need another year of this three-headed monster to be ‘fully loaded’ for a legitimate run through the East in pursuit of their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.