MILWAUKEE -- When an NBA team’s season officially ends, players have a tendency to get a few things off their chest shortly after the final game is played.
Terry Rozier falls into that category after a 116-91 season-ending loss to the Milwaukee Bucks that sent the Celtics home in the second round - their earliest playoff exit since 2016.
Like most of his teammates, Rozier acknowledged the team fell well short of their goals, which were based in part on the team’s relatively deep talent base, one that may have been too deep, in hindsight.
“It wasn’t easy on coach dealing with a lot of guys that want to be great, trying to get there,” Rozier said.
That’s a not-so-veiled way of addressing what was a season-long issue for the Celtics: there are a significant number of players whose games are still developing, who at the same time are being asked to make sacrifices for the team.
The issue wasn’t whether guys wanted to do it.
It makes a lot of sense on so many levels to embrace that team-first mindset.
Still, the success of this team last season in the playoffs, without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, made it a lot tougher for those players who showed up and played well in the team’s 2018 postseason run to return to a reduced role this season with Irving and Gordon back.
Further complicating matters for the bulk of the team was how both Irving and Hayward struggled mightily in the Milwaukee series while the bench was in a bit of transition with welcoming Marcus Smart back after he missed more than a month with a torn oblique injury. His return, coupled with the Celtics’ insistence on ratcheting up the minutes played by Irving, left Rozier in an even more reduced role than he had in the regular season.
And you can bet that Rozier’s limited playing time this season and the playoffs will have an impact on whether he’s back in Boston next season.
A restricted free agent this summer, Rozier drew interest from a number of teams at the trade deadline and will continue to be under consideration for a number of teams.
I asked him what is he looking for in whatever team he plays for next season.
“I’m looking forward to a family, a team that treats me like a family and that’s gonna invest in me all the way,” Rozier said.
I then asked him about the Celtics, who have the right to match any offer he receives.
“No comment,” Rozier replied, which was a not-so-subtle hint that Rozier is ready to move on and start anew with another team.
Listening to Rozier after the game, it’s clear that there were a lot more issues among the players that did not make their way outside for public consumption.
But the season is over now and a number of players are unlikely to be back in Boston next season.
Even with the issues that factored in the team’s underwhelming performance, Rozier acknowledged that he, too, will have a few takeaways from the experience.
“I learned a lot,” he said. “It was tough, dealing with all the talent we had, different guys wanna be in the limelight, already in the limelight, [expletive] like that. It’s been a lot. I feel like we can all step back. The time is right now, we go on vacation and just relax and reflect on the season and learn from it. It’s nothing you can do about the season now. It’s over with.”
And the same is likely to be the case for Rozier's time with the Celtics.
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