Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart have dialed it up during the absence of Kyrie Irving this post-season.
But if you had to pick one player to hold on to for the foreseeable future, who would you go with? Most fans would answer both, but that won’t be an option for the Celtics moving forward. Marcus Smart hits restricted free agency this Summer, and Rozier will hit next Summer. They are also going to have to worry about having enough money to retain both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown when their contracts are up. And with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford slated to be on the books for max money during that time, the cap is going to be pretty tight. Danny Ainge is going to have to work some magic.
So with both guys playing at another level right now, the Celtics would be wise to capitalize on that value before losing one, or both, for nothing in free agency. The Patriots do it all the time (Chandler Jones for example). Okay, unpopular opinion time: Whether you like it or not, the obvious choice here should be to trade Rozier.
Rozier has been playing out of his mind during the playoffs. I love the Scary Terry movement, and I would hate to see him go, but it makes the most sense if they had to move one of these two guys. The way he’s playing right now should have his trade value flying through the damn roof, so he would probably garnish a much larger return than Smart. And the window to trade Smart is basically gone. They would have to re-sign him, then trade him. I just can’t see that happening when they have a chip like Terry. His scoring would easily be replaced with the return of Kyrie or Hayward next season. Smart also missed a lot of time this season with injuries, which makes me think his market won’t be as strong as it could’ve been if he were healthy all year. The Celtics shouldn’t have a hard time getting him back, Rozier might be a different story.
I love both of these guys. They’ve helped make this injury-riddled season easier to watch. But they won’t be able to retain both of them, and I think the C’s should capitalize on Rozier’s value now before it’s too late.
-Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)