Back in the summer of 2019, the Charlotte Hornets were part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics that swapped Kemba Walker for long-time backup point guard Terry Rozier. It felt like a lopsided deal at the time, but it seems like Michael Jordan and his staff was one step ahead of everyone.
So far this season, Rozier is averaging a career-high 21 points, 50 percent from the field, and 46 percent from deep. Before their last game against the Utah Jazz, he had put up 30 plus points in each of his last four contests and does whatever it takes to win on a nightly basis. Hornets head coach James Borrego knows that Rozier has been a major contributor for his squad this season.
“He’s been fantastic. His will throughout games and fourth quarters just to keep us alive and to actually throw in daggers to help us win games is tremendous on his part. But he’s been fantastic,” Borrego said.
Did the Hornets win the Rozier-Walker trade?
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has made a handful of successful trades over the past decade, like trading away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for draft picks that turned into Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Trading away Rozier for Walker seemed like it would have been a no brainer for Boston, but Walker has not produced at an elite level so far in his stint as a Celtic.
Injuries have played a major part in Walker’s production (or lack thereof), but maybe he just does not fit in Boston and their young dynamic duo. On the other hand, Rozier has been the Hornets’ most consistent offensive threat since the trade went down. Walker had more pressure to step up and be that third option for his team, but Rozier capitalized on the opportunity to try and change the culture of a franchise that has struggled to remain relevant. So far this season, the Celtics hold the sixth seed (15-15) in the east, while the Hornets are not too far behind at the eighth seed (14-15).
Terry Rozier…a 2021 All-Star?
Terry Rozier has been hot throughout the season. The career highs across the board are impressive and he’s shown he can step up big in crunch time down the stretch. If he can continue this hot streak, it might not be such a far-fetched idea for Rozier to be listed as an All-Star reserve for the big game in Atlanta.
Guys like Zach LaVine and Trae Young are having outstanding seasons, but maybe Rozier could be the third guard to slide in as a reserve. Although All-Star recognition emphasizes individual play, if the Hornets can stay afloat in the playoff hunt, it might help out his case.
Michael Jordan Takes Rebuilding “Personal”
Jordan’s tenure as the owner of the Hornets has not exactly been smooth sailing. When Rozier was offered the bag to play for the Hornets, it was viewed as another bad deal, just like Nicolas Batum’s five-year $120 million contract with the team back in 2016.
But Rozier has helped change that narrative with his impressive play at this point in the season. MJ gambled his former franchise player on a younger player that is about to enter the prime of their career. It was clear Charlotte could not win with Walker, so deciding to move on was the best move for the organization. Being able to land Rozier for the price they did could end up seeming like a steal if he continues to improve over time.
Playing in the NBA seems like a hard job, but being able to put a team together after years of mediocrity is even tougher. From drafting the face of a franchise and finding the right pieces to fit, there is a lot of room for error. In the Hornets case, they might not be title contenders for the next few years, but they are taking baby steps to reach their goals. Swinging for the fences for a young player, like Rozier, was a risky tactic, but it is panning out well for now. With a possible postseason berth, they could feed off some of this success moving forward.