GROTON — Celtics point guard Terry Rozier has been reconnecting with his teammates in recent days, and he has been glad to see that forward Gordon Hayward and point guard Kyrie Irving have recovered so well from their season-ending injuries.
Irving’s return is important for the Celtics, and it will also have a direct effect on Rozier, who stepped in admirably for the All-Star last March and then had a stirring playoff run in which he averaged 16.5 points, 5.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game, helping the Celtics to the cusp of the NBA Finals.
With Irving back, Rozier will resume his secondary role as his backup, despite proving that he is capable of quite a bit more. But that does not bother the fourth-year guard.
“I’m happy Kyrie’s back,” Rozier said Thursday, after taking part in the Celtics’ Arbella home-court makeover at a Groton residence. “It’s going to make it even more fun, more challenging in practice, more stuff-talking. So you’ve got to love it. I’m just as happy as anybody he’s back. I can just learn more, and it’s going to be a great season.”
Rozier did show last year that he is capable of being a starting point guard in the NBA, however, and it has become increasingly likely that the rest of the league now understands that, too.
ESPN reported last week that the Suns are looking to acquire a starting-caliber point guard before the start of the regular season. And KMVP-FM in Phoenix later reported that Rozier was one of the point guards that the Suns were attempting to acquire.
The Celtics will always do their due diligence, but they also have no need now to trade Rozier, who will likely become a restricted free agent at season’s end. At best, he will be a perfect secondary option in case Irving decides to sign elsewhere next summer, and at worst, he could be a powerful backup on one of the league’s most powerful teams.
Still, Rozier has heard the rumors over the past week just like everyone else.
“It’s only going to get even crazier every year, I feel,” he said of trade rumors. “You just try to control what you can control and focus on getting better the whole summer and getting wiser and thinking the game. I’m just ready to get it going, ready to start the season.”
Rozier said he and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge had not spoken specifically about this latest rumor, but he added that the two have a comfortable relationship.
“It’s always talking a little mess and joking around,” Rozier said, smiling. “That’s all it is. It’s never a bad talk or too serious. I know he does his job and I know he counts on me to do my job, which is get in there, work hard and worry about what I need to worry about. He makes sure my head’s on straight and I’m not really worried about the talks.”
Most of all, Rozier is eager to get to training camp later this month so the Celtics can continue building toward a championship.
“I’m not really going crazy about it,” he said of trade rumors. “I’ve got the season to worry about, so I’m worried about what’s next. I’m not worried about what’s next for me individually; I’m just worried about how special this team can be this year.”
By Adam Himmelsbach, Boston Globe