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Celtics news: Danny Ainge thinks Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart ready to step up

Danny Ainge is a big believer in the Celtics’ youngsters, as can be seen in his refusal to trade young players. In an interview with the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn, the Celtics president was particularly optimistic about guards Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart’s chances of improving this upcoming season. He also expects young wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to play key roles even if they aren’t likely to be rushed.

“I think Terry [Rozier] and Marcus [Smart] are really ready to step up,” Ainge said. “And Jayson and Jaylen we can be a little bit more patient with, but they are going to play an important role.”

Rozier had a handful of impressive performances in last year’s playoffs for the Celtics. And despite trade rumors this offseason, he was confident enough in Ainge’s belief in him to think he won’t get traded. Rozier likely won’t get heavy minutes backing up Kyrie Irving, but he can bring energy and defensive intensity off the bench.

Meanwhile, Smart could potentially be the starting shooting guard this season after the departure of Avery Bradley. Smart still struggles mightily with his outside shooting, but he did improve his playmaking last season and remains the team’s best defender. With added playing time, he could make yet another jump.

Brown will likely challenge Smart for that starting spot alongside Gordon Hayward, and will similarly be asked to provide strong perimeter defense. But with more established players like Hayward and Smart ahead of Brown and Tatum in the pecking order, the Celtics do have the luxury of taking their time with both of their young wings.