Boston Celtics

Apr 3, 2019; Miami, FL: Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier takes a breather during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Apr 3, 2019; Miami, FL: Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier takes a breather during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Terry Rozier has practically punched his ticket out of Boston. He insists he’s a “top point guard in this league”. So now it’ll be time for him to back up what’s been a striking collection of recent comments.

Rozier made two appearances on ESPN on Tuesday, continuing the candid nature he showed in his postgame interview after the Celtics’ season ended. The fourth-year point guard did not mince words about the Celtics’ obvious behind-the-scenes issues, which manifested in their on-court underachievement. But he took it a step further in claiming “I feel like I sacrificed the most, but I’d do it for any team.”

Well, apparently he wouldn’t do it for the Celtics again. When Stephen A. Smith asked him on “First Take” (with his typically theatrical flair) whether he’d be willing to stay in Boston if they brought back the same team, Rozier responded: “I might have to go, I might have to go. I put up with a lot this year. I said what I said after the season. I think we all know that I’m not trying to step into that again.”

Rozier spoke more about his impending restricted free agency in an interview on “Get Up” with Mike Greenberg. He has repeatedly said publicly that he believes he’s a starting-caliber point guard. That’s presumably the role he seeks at his next destination.

“I’m looking forward to just play ball. I don’t care where I go,” Rozier said. “Obviously the Celtics is the only organization I know for the [first] four years [of my career]. I love it there. We just have to go from there … I expect to get my chance, whether it’s with the Celtics or it’s anywhere else. I feel like I can be myself and play my game wherever I go.”

Rozier put the most pressure on himself, however, when he spoke to Yahoo! Sports’ Vincent Goodwill. Reiterating his comments about sacrifice, Rozier added: “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.”

“Top point guard in this league” is quite the take for a player who’s averaged 13.8 points and 4.2 assists per 36 minutes in his career. Even when Rozier got his opportunity to start, it wasn’t out of merit but necessity. In the playoffs, with Kyrie Irving out due to knee surgery, Rozier averaged a good-but-not-great 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists in 36.6 minutes per game. He shot just 40.6 percent from the field.

Those may be starter numbers, but not necessarily those of a “top point guard”. So Rozier better be prepared to top those numbers wherever he ends up.

Couple problems with that. One, most teams have either a starter entrenched at point guard or a young player with just as much, if not more talent in line for the role. Two, he’s only a restricted free agent. So he’ll have to hope that either the Celtics decline to give him a qualifying offer, which would make him an unrestricted free agent, or that another team agrees with his opinion of himself and grants him a starter-level offer sheet. The Celtics may ultimately be his only real opportunity to start.

Assuming Rozier signs elsewhere this offseason, the onus will then be on him to prove on the court what he’s said off of it. Because while he’s had his moments as a starting point guard for the Celtics, he certainly hasn’t proven to be a high-end starter just yet.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.