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Danny Picard: Celtics should say no to Kemba but pay Terry Rozier - Metro US

Danny Picard: Celtics should say no to Kemba but pay Terry Rozier

Terry Rozier
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Bring back Terry Rozier.

That decision shouldn’t really be difficult. The Celtics should make Rozier their starting point guard for the 2019-20 NBA season.

Reports indicate that the C’s are one of the favorites to land free agent Kemba Walker. Let me be the first to tell you they should not do such a thing.

OK, so maybe I’m not the first to tell you that, but since the Walker-to-Boston rumors began, it seems as if most people would be on board with the signing. I’m here to not only tell you I’m not on board with it, but I’m also here to tell you that I believe bringing Rozier back should be the obvious play, if you’re Danny Ainge.

Rozier, 25, is a restricted free agent. The Celtics have the right to match any contract that another team offers him this summer. So, technically, he’s still a Celtic until they say they don’t want him anymore. The only way they should say that is if another team gets crazy and makes Rozier a ridiculously lucrative multi-year offer. But I just don’t see that happening.

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Rozier’s cap hit next season would be $9 million. The difference between having Rozier with a $9 million cap hit, and renouncing his rights to let him sign elsewhere would be the difference between having $26 million in cap space, and $34 million in cap space this summer, if in fact both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are leaving.

If Walker is looking for a max contract, which it seems like he will be at 29 years old, then the Celtics would have to let Rozier walk. But should Ainge really give Walker max money when he could have Rozier at just a $9 million cap hit? Even if the C’s have to re-work Rozier’s deal to give him $12 million per year, I’d still say that’s a better contract than Walker getting max money in his 30’s.

My theory on max contracts is, if you’re going to give out multiple max deals, then make sure at least one of those max players is worthy of it. I understand that sometimes you have to overpay a little bit in order to add a player you covet. And I consider Gordon Hayward to be slightly overpaid.

Do you really want two overpaid max players right now, named Hayward and Walker, if you’re the Celtics? They shouldn’t want that. But that’s what they would have if they gave Walker a max deal.

Walker could just be using the Celtics to get the Hornets to give him the “supermax.” That would make the most sense here. And I say that while believing the Celtics’ best option at point guard is just bringing Rozier back.

Don’t give me the ESPN interviews he did as the reason for not re-signing him. Look, I completely disagree with the way Rozier went about sending his message after the season, telling Stephen A. Smith he “might have to go” if the Celtics bring back the same team as last year.

Clearly Rozier was talking about Irving without actually saying Irving’s name. He shouldn’t have done the interview, fine. But was his message — that the Celtics are better off without Irving — wrong? If you’re OK with Irving leaving, then should you really hold that ESPN interview against Rozier?

I hope Irving leaves. I agree with Rozier’s message. Again, he went about it the wrong way, but in the end, he’s right.

The Celtics drafted Rozier at No. 16 overall in 2015. His first two seasons he was Isaiah Thomas’ backup. Then he played second fiddle to Irving. Ainge didn’t draft Rozier at No. 16 overall — which was a lot higher than he was projected to be drafted —in order to never give Rozier a shot at being the Celtics’ starting point guard. In fact, Rozier played his best when Irving went down with an injury in 2018.

It’s time to see what Rozier can do full-time. That should be the obvious play for the Celtics.

Let somebody else overpay Walker.

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