A sprained foot is expected to keep Gordon Hayward out throughout the next month. Meaning the former Celtic will likely not suit up in each of Charlotte’s three matchups with Boston over the next four weeks, the first of which tips off on Sunday. However, that’s not to say that the Cs won’t be welcoming a familiar face into Beantown.
Terry Rozier, who spent his first four NBA seasons with the Celtics before being dealt to the Hornets in 2019 in a sign-and-trade for Kemba Walker, is in the midst of his most prolific season to date. The veteran point guard is averaging a career-best 20.3 points per game while knocking down 41.0% of his 3-pointers.
While his stellar play has helped Charlotte exceed expectations this season — currently sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference — he’s still managed to keep tabs on his former team. And by the sound of it, he feels the scathing reviews of the Celtics this year have been a bit overblown.
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Rozier on Celtics: ‘They’re Not That Bad’
“To be honest I think they’re not that bad,” Rozier said, via the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy. “I think people in the city kind of overreact sometimes because they’re the Boston Celtics. I think they expect more, but I don’t things are that bad.”
The Celtics of course entered the season with title aspirations. Yet, thus far have fallen well below those lofty goals. Through 49 games, they are merely teetering on the border of being a playoff team, currently sitting as the No. 8 seed in the East.
With that said, for all their falters this season, Boston remains just one game behind the Hornets in the win column and could quickly work their way up the ranks over the next month and a half. However, in doing so they’ll need to greatly strengthen their on-court product. Since the All-Star break, the Cs have a record of just 5-8, while only one of those victories has come against a team with more than 20 wins on the year.
Rozier vs. Walker
Initially, the Celtics were nearly unanimously applauded for their ability to flip Rozier for Walker and add a perennial All-Star to their lineup next to Jayson Tatum. However, despite being named an Eastern Conference starter in the All-Star game during his first season in Boston, concerns over injuries, age, fit and finances have many wondering if the team actually made the right decision.
While he’s begun to show flashes of his pre-injury form, knee concerns on a 30-year-old point guard are never ideal. On top of that, Walker is still owed $73.6 million of his $141 million contract over the next two seasons ($37.7 million player option in 2022-23). Quite the financial commitment, especially for a player who has clearly fallen behind Jaylen Brown in the offensive pecking order.
As for Rozier, he’s three years younger than Walker and is on the books for $17.9 million for next season, $18.1 million less than Walker. We touched earlier on how crucial Rozier has been to the Hornets’ success this season. He’s already outplayed his contract. However, his performance over the next month will be critical to his future earnings. If he can shoulder the team’s offensive load with both Hayward and LaMelo Ball out of the lineup, Scary Terry could be headed for a highly lucrative payday.
For now, we’ll leave Celtics fans with this statistical breakdown of both Walker and Rozier’s output since the start of the 2019-20 season, via Boston Sports Info.