Celtics

Seary Terry: Rozier not helping his cause by venting about Celtics

Seary Terry: Rozier not helping his cause by venting about Celtics

Terry Rozier showed up at ESPN on Tuesday morning with a PUMA-branded flamethrower and, even during what’s dubbed a “car wash,” still managed to set ablaze all things Celtics while making appearances on the network's programming.

Picking up where he left off after Boston’s season-ending loss to the Milwaukee Bucks less than a week ago, Rozier vented about the sacrifices he made this season and the challenge of playing alongside stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. He critiqued the coaching staff’s game-planning then suggested that he, “might have to go,” if Boston elected to run back a similar roster next season.

All this as Rozier prepares to wade into the often unforgiving and always uncertain waters of restricted free agency, where the Celtics, should they still extend a $4.3 million qualifying offer next month, will have the opportunity to match any outside offer that Rozier receives.

Let’s start here: Rozier’s honesty is appreciated but also slightly misguided. Rozier offered a rare window into the Celtics’ locker room all season long (save those hot takes for Celtics Post Up, Terry!) and allowed us to better understand some of the frustrations that lingered this season.

Alas, Rozier, whether on his own volition or under the advice of those around him, seems hellbent now on talking his way into a better situation after a frustrating year. And you can’t help but wonder if he’s hurting himself in the quest to move on.

While Rozier's frustrations are not unreasonable — he went from being a playoff hero to a minute-crunched backup — this scorched-Earth tour has not been a particularly good look for a player trying to sell himself to the rest of the NBA. All this while the possibility remains that the Celtics might have their own guard vacancies depending on what Irving decides about his own future, or if the team is forced to trade Marcus Smart as part of the Anthony Davis pursuit.

Teams around the NBA know Rozier had to take a backseat this year and had two postseasons worth of intriguing data to show that he could indeed be an impact player in the right situation. By venting so quickly after the season, it will leave some front offices leery about whether his focus is on the greater good of the team or simply on himself.

Rozier routinely admitted how difficult it was for the younger players to have to take a step back after steering Boston’s 2018 playoff run, and he was the first one to point out how Irving’s mood often dictated that of the team as a whole. 

Alas, Rozier never quite got past mad, and he didn’t make much of a case for a larger role during the regular season. The Celtics were 9.6 points per 100 possessions better with Rozier on the bench this season. That included a minus-1.2 net rating during his 1,791 minutes on the court — the lowest rating among regulars — and the team’s net rating spiked to plus-8.4 in Rozier’s 2,165 minutes off the court, the highest number on the team among any player.

Rozier was better in the postseason (more so against Indiana than Milwaukee) and particularly when he didn’t let his shot-making effect his defensive intensity. The Celtics owned a net rating of plus-2.8 in Rozier’s 162 minutes of court time over nine games, and the team had a net rating of minus-4.3 in his 270 minutes on the bench. His minutes eroded a bit when Marcus Smart returned from injury.

Rozier has vented about having to morph the way he played when he shared the court with Irving but, alas, that’s the downside of being behind an All-NBA point guard. What that ignores is that Rozier owned a net rating of plus-4.2 in 441 minutes alongside Irving and then plummeted to minus-3.1 in the 1,350 minutes without him this regular season. Rozier’s individual output improved without Irving, his usage rate jumping 5 percent without him, but it sort of hammers home that individual success sometimes blinded Rozier from the fact that his biggest payday would have come from team success.

But that’s the story of the Celtics in a nutshell. Sometimes players were too focused on their individual goals and not enough on figuring out how to make it work as a team. Rozier was second on the team in touches this season and, even if Hayward did have more plays run for him, Rozier never figured out how to get the most out of the second-unit offense and give Boston the sort of bench spark that could have differentiated it from rivals.

Rozier seems pretty confident there’s a payday out there somewhere for him. He reportedly turned down in the neighborhood of $12 million per year before the season in hopes of finding a bigger paycheck on the open market. 

Maybe he will. But his mouth isn’t helping. Rozier needs to trust his talents, ignore anyone that’s feeding him bad advice, and simply hope teams will invest in his future based on those few times he wasn’t stuffed in the trunk the past couple seasons.

The Celtics could have dealt Rozier this season, but they kept him around believing he was needed insurance, both in the short and long term. It will be interesting to see if Rozier’s recent squawking sours the team on their desire to bring him back in the event of a roster overhaul.

It might have closed the door on the opportunity he wanted all along.

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Celtics' Romeo Langford returns to Indiana for first time as NBA player

Celtics' Romeo Langford returns to Indiana for first time as NBA player

INDIANAPOLIS — Injuries and opportunity have kept Romeo Langford on the sidelines more than he would have liked in this, his rookie season. 

But that won’t stop the folks from his hometown of New Albany, Indiana, from making the two-hour trek to Wednesday night’s game to support him and the Boston Celtics in what’s being billed as New Albany Night at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Wednesday will be the first time Langford, selected by Boston with the 14th overall pick in last June’s draft, will return to the Hoosier State as a Celtic.

“It’ll be good, just to be back. I haven’t been back home in a while,” Langford told NBC Sports Boston, adding that the last time he was home was sometime in August. “It’s been a while. That first time going back, it’s going to be a good, special time. It’ll be nice for people who saw me grow up, to see me now in an NBA uniform.”

Langford was a four-year starter at New Albany High School and finished his prep career as one of the state’s most decorated basketball players ever. 

He took his talents to nearby Indiana University, where he played for one season before entering last June’s NBA draft.

There are many in the New Albany community eager to see one of their own come back.  

“We are excited to partner with the Pacers to provide our fans and community with an opportunity to celebrate Romeo’s return to Indiana,” New Albany Athletic Director B.J. McAlister said in a statement. “Our city’s support of Romeo over his high school and college careers was outstanding, and now everyone will get a chance to cheer him on in his first NBA game in our state.

Langford is with the Celtics but won’t see any action against the Pacers as he recovers from a sprained ankle.

“It is frustrating, but you just have to deal with it, try to get better and get back out there as soon as you can,” said Langford, referring to the series of injuries he has had thus far. “That’s all I really can do.”

Langford said he is feeling a lot better and thinks it’s just a matter of days before he’s officially cleared to resume full basketball activities.

Whether he plays or not, there’s very little that can damper Langford’s spirits on the eve of his first homecoming as an NBA player. 

“Like I said, it’ll be good to see a lot of people who helped me get to where I am now, at the game,” Langford said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics eye a potential return from Marcus Smart (eye infection) vs. Pacers

Celtics eye a potential return from Marcus Smart (eye infection) vs. Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS -- Yes, there is a chance that the Boston Celtics will have their defensive anchor back in the mix for Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. 

Marcus Smart, who did not play in Boston’s 110-88 victory over Cleveland due to an eye infection, made the trip to Indiana with the team but is still considered questionable to play. 

If the Celtics’ defensive stalwart is indeed healthy enough to play, it’ll be interesting to see whether he comes off the bench or rejoins the starting lineup.

Smart began the season coming off the bench while playing starter-like minutes. 

Once Gordon Hayward went down with a fourth metacarpal fracture of his left hand on Nov. 9, Smart was back in the starting lineup and, by and large, did a solid job. 

Will head coach Brad Stevens bring Smart off the bench like he did to start the season, or will he go with more of a mix-and-match kind of lineup that has one of their wings — Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum or Hayward — slide over to being a big-time, difference-making reserve?

No matter how they decide to use Smart, you can rest assured that he will make an impact of some kind. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.