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Do the Celtics Regret Trading Terry Rozier for Kemba Walker?

It’s been a bad year for Celtics fans. Lots of low lows. Tatum getting COVID, Jaylen Brown in and out of the lineup, Marcus Smart’s injury, and of course, Kemba… 

When he’s been in the lineup, Kemba’s been... fine? 

But for 35MM a year I would expect my point guard to be more than fine. I need him to be consistently elite. If he’s not then why am I paying him max money especially when I could have sign someone as good for much less? Because the Celtics don’t have a margin for error in an Eastern conference that is LOADED. 

Speaking of which, let’s talk about Terry Rozier.  

You know, Scary Terry, who showed signs of brilliance, a spark off the bench in Boston but who averaged only 8 points in 20 minutes of play over four seasons.

The same Terry Rozier who just put up 43/5/4 last night in a close loss to the Pelicans.

When the double sign and trade went down, it looked like the Celtics hit a home run. No one would have conceived of a universe where Kemba would look like the worse signing between the two. No one on earth said “will the Celtics regret this move?” In fact, it felt like the Hornets were (like normal) the idiots. 

But now it’s a legitimate debate.

And a lot of it has to do with injuries. One of the most durable players in the league before the trade, since he landed in Boston Kemba has been snake bitten. This year he’s missed 26 games already, and even worse for a team struggling to avoid the play-in, he’s been out 7 of the last 17 games. On the other hand, on a team devastated by injuries, Terry has only missed 3 games all year. 

Even when they are playing this year, you can make the argument that Scary Terry is the better player. Kind of wild TBH. Here are their season splits:

Kemba: 19/4/5 -- 42/36/90

Rozier: 21/4/4 -- 46/40/82

Basically, Rozier statistically is better in almost every way. And he’s also a better defender which is something I think Boston REALLY could use right about now. Besides Marcus Smart, this team has been a sieve.  

Even the Hornets weren’t exactly sure what they were going to get in Terry Rozier. Last year he was AWFUL. Brian Windhorst even thought he might be close to being out of the league altogether. 

This is what Charlotte’s GM Mitch Kupchak recently said about the trade:

"We believed in a kid. We saw a great opportunity when we were losing Kemba [Walker], who we wanted to keep. And then, for some reason, that made Terry available to do a double sign-and-trade; … It was just a unique opportunity for us to get a young talent. Now, he does continue to get better, and he is a much harder worker than I thought on both sides of the ball."

So yeah, Terry could fall off this year, but he’s averaged 19/4/4 since he landed in Charlotte and got more playing time, and even the emergence of Lamelo Ball hasn’t hurt his numbers … in fact his numbers have gone UP since Lamelo was named starter about a quarter way into this season. No reason to think Rozier, who’s only 27, will do anything other than improve.

As an aside, watch Lamelo track from across the court to celebrate with Scary Terry after this game-winner. 

Like I said earlier … the real problem is that Kemba’s getting paid a shit TON of money: $35 million this year and another $74 million the next two. Rozier is making $18 a year, although he’s in a contract year next season. In fact, Danny Ainge tried to offload Kemba in the offseason and couldn’t find one buyer at the price he deemed acceptable. He has a borderline untradeable contract at this point. Now, I’m a HUGE Kemba Walker fan but if you had to ask Celtics fans (privately) I bet they would come to the same conclusion. 

Choose one: Terry Rozier at $18MM or Kemba Walker at $35MM. 

It’s Terry every single time. We talk about this on this episode of THIS LEAGUE along with Zion’s recent injury, the conspiracy happening in Indiana and whether pace of play will be meaningful