Celtics

Terry Rozier wants to leave Celtics if Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward return

Terry Rozier wants to leave Celtics if Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward return

It appears Tuesday was Terry Rozier's official airing of grievances on ESPN.

The Boston Celtics point guard went on "Get Up!" in the morning to discuss the challenges of playing with Kyrie Irving, suggesting Irving's return from offseason knee surgery led to some confusion about the Celtics' game plan.

Rozier expanded on those challenges a few hours later on ESPN's First Take, explaining that the bulk of his frustration this season stemmed from taking a back seat to Irving and Gordon Hayward.

"Just obviously in the shadow of some guys," Rozier said. "The ball was in either Kyrie or Gordon Hayward's hands most of the time. So, I feel like either Terry Rozier is just in the corner or on the bench. One of those two."

Rozier's minutes dipped from 25.9 per game in 2017-18 -- when Hayward missed 81 games and Irving missed 22 -- to 22.7 per game this season. The 25-year-old also saw his playoff minutes cut in half from the previous postseason, when he assumed the starting point guard role with Irving out.

"I'm out there for a little bit of half of my minutes, so I'm really not being my position," Rozier said of sharing the backcourt with Irving. "I'm not being Terry Rozier, because I have to adjust to how Kyrie plays. And then when Kyrie comes out, Gordon Hayward comes in and I feel like his usage is super high, so a lot of plays get called for him."

The numbers tell a slightly different story; Hayward had an 18.2 percent usage rate this season, only a hair ahead of Rozier at 17.9 percent. Rozier also got more touches than Hayward this season, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor.

Evidence aside, Rozier said he felt the Celtics' coaching staff favored Irving and Hayward over the rest of the roster.

"Them treating Gordon and Kyrie, I wouldn't say different than everybody else, but I feel like they just treated them like they were just on that level where there were no adjustments that could be made because they are who they are," Rozier said. "We never figured it out after that."

Those words certainly sound like a guy who wouldn't mind a change of scenery. Rozier, who's a restricted free agent this offseason, was asked point-blank if he would want to say on this Celtics team if Irving, Hayward and the rest of the roster returns in 2019-20.

"Nah, I might have to go," Rozier said. "I put up with a lot this year. I said what I said after the season. I think we all know I'm not trying to step into that again."

We do now, Terry.

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Kemba Walker ready to adjust his role and share the scoring with his new Celtics teammates

Kemba Walker ready to adjust his role and share the scoring with his new Celtics teammates

Celtics point guard Kemba Walker admits that, in order for his new team to maximize its potential, he needs to alter his offensive approach. Fresh off inking his max contract, the eight-year veteran said he’s on board with deferring to the new talent that now surrounds him.

“[My role] does [need to change], and I’m looking forward to it,” Walker said on the latest Celtics Talk Podcast. "It’s something new. It’s not as big of a burden, I feel like, on my back. It’s like, I had to be perfect every night in Charlotte. Had to be. I had to have a great game, offensively, if not, it will be a struggle for us to win. Like I said, with the personnel, we have on this team and the way these guys can score, it’ll be different.”

The Celtics landed Walker on a four-year, $141 million deal. With the Hornets, Walker was forced to shoulder much of the scoring burden and sometimes even big outputs weren’t enough to will Charlotte to wins (Walker had seven games of 40-plus points last season and Charlotte lost six of them, the only win coming against Boston).

Walker ranked ninth in the NBA in usage rate last season at 30.8 percent. That was one spot ahead of ball-dominant Russell Westbrook and two spots ahead of Kawhi Leonard. Which is to say that Walker is used to finishing possessions but seems on board with giving it up more. Kyrie Irving ranked 17th in the NBA in usage at 28.6 last year.

Walker cited young players Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as reasons he wanted to come to Boston and he’s eager to use his talents to get them scoring opportunities. A healthier Gordon Hayward is going to demand more possessions as well and the team can lean on his ball-handling skills, especially when Walker isn’t on the court.

Walker said he’s excited about the potential. 

"I think there will be a lot of space. I’m a willing passer as well. I’m very unselfish,” said Walker. "I love to score, don’t get it twisted. Whenever I have an opportunity to score, I’m going to score. But, when I draw defenders and see open guys, I’m going to get rid of that thing. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to kinda changing my game as well, just giving the ball up a lot more.”

Coming off a season in which Irving’s missteps as a leader contributed to friction with younger players, Walker’s arrival begs the question of whether he can maximize their talents. While he’s expressed a desire to help those players grow — while also suggesting that he yearns to learn from them and their playoff experiences -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge remains staunch that Walker simply needs to be the best version of himself.

"I don't really look for other people to draw out anything from anybody,” said Ainge. "I expect him to be at his best, that's all. Work hard and be who he is. He doesn't have to try to draw anything out from any of the other guys...It's not anybody's responsibility to draw the best out in every other player.”

Added Ainge: "I see Kemba as a good fit with anybody. He's a really good player. He's smart and is experienced and wants to win. He's accomplished a lot of things individually and he just really hasn't been able to accomplish the team goals since winning the national championship in college. But I think that's what he is hoping for. He's at the stage of his life where that's all that matters.”

Walker landed on the All-NBA third team this past season. He averaged a career-best 25.6 points per game but has shot just 41.8 percent from the floor from his career and 35.7 percent beyond the arc. The Celtics are hoping that with more skill around him, Walker can ratchet up his overall efficiency. He averaged 5.9 assists per game last season and that number could spike if Tatum, Brown, and Hayward elevate their offensive output this season.

It is, of course, easier to say you want to morph your game in July than it is to actually do it on the court in October. But Walker has repeatedly stressed a desire to win after limited playoff exposure in Charlotte. Given some of the losses on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the frontcourt, it’s imperative that the Celtics play with high efficiency on the offensive end. Walker’s ability to maximize opportunities for himself and his teammates could be key in Boston’s success in the 2019-20 season.

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NBA Rumors: Clippers offered Marcus Morris large contract at start of free agency

NBA Rumors: Clippers offered Marcus Morris large contract at start of free agency

It's been a tumultuous offseason for Marcus Morris.

The former Celtics forward stirred up some controversy when he backed out of his agreement with the Spurs to sign with the Knicks in free agency. San Antonio offered Morris a two-year, $20 million deal, but he ultimately chose New York's one-year, $15 million offer instead.

That decision led to Morris parting ways with his agent, Rich Paul, and the Spurs reportedly being "pissed" about the 29-year-old's change of heart.

Apparently, San Antonio's offer wasn't the only one Morris turned down. According to Frank Isola of The Athletic, he also declined a three-year, $41 million offer from the Clippers at the start of free agency.

Isola writes:

Morris, however, lost out on a much more lucrative contract with the LA Clippers, who were prepared to pay him $41 million over three seasons. A Clippers source said the three-year deal included a provision for Morris to receive 50 percent of his salary on Oct. 1.

Morris was hoping to earn $40 million over two years but the Clippers couldn’t offer that deal if they wanted to sign Kawhi Leonard to a max contract. Once Morris took that stance, the Clippers moved on and acquired Portland’s Maurice Harkless in a four-team trade that included Jimmy Butler signing with the Miami Heat. Harkless will earn $11 million next season, or $2 million less than what Morris would have made with the Clippers.

The Clippers certainly aren't losing sleep over Morris declining their offer. They went on to sign superstar Kawhi Leonard and trade for another star in Paul George.

As for Morris, he might regret overestimating his market value early in the offseason. Fortunately for him, he'll get another shot at it next July with a new agent.