The Celtics can keep backup point guard Terry Rozier off the 2019 restricted free agent market by locking him up to a contract extension before Monday’s deadline, but that’s not expected to happen. Multiple sources tell Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe that the two sides won’t agree to an extension in the coming days.
“There’s not going to be any extension,” one source said to Himmelsbach. “It wouldn’t make any sense for Terry to do that.”
One source tells Himmelsbach that Rozier is determined to become a starting point guard in the NBA and figures to seek the “minutes and money” of a starter in 2019. Himmelsbach suggests Rozier’s asking price could be in the neighborhood of $20MM per year.
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That could be problematic for the Celtics. They recently received a verbal commitment from Kyrie Irving, who said he’ll re-sign with the team when he reaches free agency next summer. Boston already committed approximately $13MM annually to Marcus Smart on a four-year deal earlier this year, so huge new contracts for both Irving and Rozier are probably unpalatable.
Assuming the Celtics and Rozier don’t unexpectedly reach a compromise at the 11th hour, the 24-year-old will enter the season as one of the leaders of the second unit, with the team knowing it can count on him to step into a larger role if Irving and/or Smart battle injuries again. The former Louisville standout averaged an impressive 16.5 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 5.3 RPG in 19 postseason contests (all starts) in the spring.
Next summer, the C’s will have the right of first refusal on Rozier as a restricted free agent, so they could try to re-sign him outright and would have the option to match any offer sheet he signs with another team. While a $20MM-per-year offer seems awfully ambitious, the NBA’s salary cap is projected to increase by another $8MM for 2019/20, and there should be no shortage of teams with significant cap space, so Rozier should have several suitors.