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Victor Oladipo, Pacers

The Celtics need to trade Terry Rozier

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After a knee injury forced Kyrie Irving to miss a portion of last season and the entire playoffs, the Boston Celtics were looking for answers at point guard. Thankfully, Terry Rozier stepped up and filled the role in nicely.

Not only that, Rozier proved that he has the tools to be a quality starter in this league.

After being drafted 16th overall by the Celtics in the 2015 NBA draft, Scary Terry branded himself as a combo guard that could create his own shot, drive to the hole, and pester opposing players with his 6-foot-8 wingspan, explosiveness, and athleticism. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to display his full repertoire during the first two seasons because he was stuck playing behind Isaiah Thomas and fellow young player Marcus Smart.

However, when an opportunity presented itself back in April, Rozier jumped on and never let go. After starting off as the third-string guard, he worked his way up before eventually being awarded the starting point guard position. In 16 games, his averages spiked up to 15.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.8 three-pointers per game on 38 percent shooting from the field.

His momentum carried over into the postseason as he posted similar numbers of 16.5 points, 5.3 boards, 5.7 dimes, 1.3 swipes, and 2.7 long bombs on 40.5 percent field goal shooting per contest. Most importantly, he made sure to apply stingy defense on the likes of Eric Bledsoe and JJ Redick while hitting some big shots for the Celtics. His performance was a big reason why Boston was able to reach the conference finals, despite losing Irving and Gordon Hayward to injuries.

While Rozier’s revelation is indeed a welcome sight, this puts Danny Ainge and company in a very precarious situation. Should they ride this wave and trade him while his value is at an all-time high? Or secure his services through a long-term deal?

In spite of his talent and clear potential, I believe that given their current situation, it would be wiser for the team to trade him for future draft picks. Here are a few reasons that back up my claim.

Boston will be entering the 2019 offseason with 11 players under contract, with Rozier, Marcus Morris, and Daniel Theis as their notable free agents. That’s already roughly $125 million in salary cap space eaten up. Assuming Irving opts out – and all signs point to him doing so – and signs a max deal, that number could bloat to as much as $142 million.

The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets have been floated around as potential suitors for Irving come free agency, but it’s hard to imagine the spitfire point guard giving up a prime opportunity in Boston for the sake of playing closer to home.

Considering these numbers, the Celtics may not be inclined to offer Rozier a contract that appeals to him. In short, since this is his first time to hit free agency and money is a driving force, there will probably be other more appealing options out there.

Other than that, the White and Green are an immensely talented team with at least nine players who can log heavy minutes. The guard spots, which will be primarily manned by Irving, Smart, Hayward, and Brown, seem quite loaded and there may not be enough minutes to go around. This could mean that Rozier is the odd man out. It doesn’t make much sense for them to keep a resource when they’re not planning to use it.

Considering these circumstances, it may best for both parties to explore a trade. Rather than lose him for nothing next summer, the Celtics should explore the market and see what they could possibly get in return. Rozier, on the other hand, can continue his development as a lead guard on a different squad. He’ll be able to further improve his skills and cash in on a payday that is on par with his skills.

It may be a difficult decision right now, but the best one, especially in the long run.