BROOKLYN – Terry Rozier saw all of the jokes. The Celtics almost traded for Jimmy Butler, but they refused to part with Terry Rozier! The Celtics almost traded for Paul George, but they refused to part with Terry Rozier! The Celtics almost traded for LeBron James and Kevin Durant AND Anthony Davis, but they refused to part with Terry Rozier!
“I tried not to read into it but it’s hard not to see it,” Rozier says. “It’s like, everywhere. But I’m with it. I’m all for it. I’m happy to be here. I haven’t got traded. This is a special place and I’m just happy to be part of this organization. I’m still here. I hope I’m here to stay.”
Rozier is indeed still in Boston despite the endless barrage of trade rumors over the last few seasons, and despite his name being thrown into the mix while the Celtics were reportedly close to deals for every conceivable star player. They signed one (Gordon Hayward) and traded for another (Kyrie Irving) during the 2017 offseason, but Rozier was left standing. He’s taken on a larger role with this version of the Celtics — something that was likely to happen even before Hayward’s traumatic season-ending injury a few minutes into the first game of the year — and his play is, if not justifying the ridiculous hyperbole of supposedly shot-down trades, at least making the Celtics look pretty smart for hanging onto him.
Typically the first or second man off the bench for Brad Stevens, Rozier is posting career-best figures in a number of categories. If he ever starts making shots, he’ll push himself into the ranks of the best bench sparkplugs in the league. As it is, he’s nudged himself into positive territory in several advanced metrics (Value Over Replacement Player, Box Plus-Mins, Real Plus-Minus, Win Shares Per 48 Minutes), a major leap forward considering he was sub-replacement level as a rookie and still below-average last year. He leads the whole damn league in defensive rating this season, according to Basketball-Reference.
Rozier is pressuring the ball like crazy. Bite-sized lineups with him and 5-foot-10 Shane Larkin in the backcourt should theoretically get torn apart by NBA-sized guards, but the two of them have just been relentless in picking up for as much of the full 94 feet as possible while they’re out there together. Teams have scored a pathetic 84.6 points per 100 possessions against that duo in 102 minutes this season, per NBA.com, and they just provided an example on Tuesday night of how they can combine to swing a game.