Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier, the No. 3 point guard on the Celtics’ loaded point guard depth chart and a restricted free agent at the end of the season, doesn’t want the world. He just wants everything he believes he deserves.
“I want everything I deserve,” Rozier said in an exclusive with The Athletic. “And I’m going to get everything I deserve. Like I said, I’ve been around this game long enough to see how both sides work, and that’s why it helped me make my decisions.”
When asked what he felt he deserved — be it money, opportunity, or playing time — Rozier essentially said the expected, subtly hinting at the lack of playing time he gets on a Boston team with enough guards to make him a No. 5 option.
“I just want to play. Play and have fun. Put a smile on my face,” Rozier, averaging just over 22 minutes per night through 23 games this season, said. “Terry’s at his best when he’s smiling. Everybody knows that. I like to smile, have fun, stuff like that. I’m always going to play for the name on the front, not the name on the back.”
It’s not hard to see why Rozier feels like this, really.
In addition to being in a contract year that if maximized correctly can make him an extraordinarily wealthy player in the blink of an eye, Rozier got his first taste of a real starting gig last year when he filled in for the injured Kyrie Irving throughout the C’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and didn’t do a half-bad job. In fact, Rozier was perhaps the Green’s best player, with 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game, along with a team-leading 36.6 minutes per night.
This year, that aforementioned limited role has held Rozier to just 8.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per night. That kind of production (or lack thereof) obviously complicates Rozier’s future desire to be paid like what he believes he is (a starter).
But perhaps it’s worth noting that Irving, Boston’s superstar point guard clogging Rozier’s path to what he deserves, is buying what Rozier is selling, too, saying that the 24-year-old is an NBA starter.
“He’s a starting guard in our league and it’s a unique position for him to be in, to be playing behind me,” Irving said following Wednesday’s practice in Brighton. “To have that much talent just sitting on the bench, it’s not something that’s normal.
“It’s not anything normal that he can be dealing with on a day-to-day basis but we try to support him as much as possible and as well, me, just trying to get him as much advice and knowledge as we move forward.”
Trapped in a bizarre spot, Rozier understands that this is his situation, for better or worse, so long as the Celtics stay healthy.
It’s a reality Rozier is beginning to show signs of accepting, at least if it means that the Celts will continue to win.
“Just thug out this year and do what I’m supposed to do: help my team be successful in the [best] way I can,” Rozier told King of his 2018-19 plans with the Celtics. “And there’s gonna be some ups and downs. There’s already been some downs.
“But that’s part of it. It’s part of it. So I’m done with all the bulls–t. I just want to help my team be successful.”
Then comes everything Rozier deserves.