Rozier Shoots Down Rumors: 'I'm Happy To Be in This Position'
PHOENIX – Someone stirred the pot, but it wasn’t Terry Rozier.
Rumors began swirling Wednesday that Rozier is unhappy with his reserve role with the Boston Celtics. But as quickly as those rumprs began to swirl, they were just as swiftly blown away by both Rozier and the C’s.
“I woke up to the news just like y’all woke up to the news,” Rozier authentically stated at Thursday morning’s shootaround, ahead of Boston’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns. “I don’t know where it came from. I’m happy to be in this position I’m at, playing on a team that’s mentioned to have a chance to be in the championship. So I’m not worried about what’s being said.”
Danny Ainge also squashed the rumors while speaking Thursday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich show.
“I talk to Terry quite a bit, and I haven’t heard any of those things,” Ainge said on the show. “So I don’t know how reliable those things, those sources or rumors, are. Terry hasn’t shared any of those things with me and I think he would if he were feeling that way.”
Ainge also mentioned that the Celtics and Rozier and his camp pre-emptively spoke this summer about the role Rozier would have on the team with the return of All-Star Kyrie Irving. Rozier is averaging 22.7 minutes per game this season, after averaging 36.6 per game last postseason while playing in Irving’s place and helping to lead Boston to the doorstep of the NBA Finals.
Rozier was and is well aware of his role on this team. He understands that he is a reserve. That may not be his preferred role, but that doesn’t mean he’s grumbling about it or seeking to play elsewhere.
“I go from starting in the Playoffs and then to coming off the bench. I’m pretty sure it’s not easy for nobody,” he stated. “And I’m not complaining, and if you know me, I’ve never been the one to complain about (playing time). I would never go to the media or bring out the ‘unhappy’ thing. I would never do that.”
He continued, “People that know me know I wouldn’t do that. I’ve never been a selfish type of person, type of player. You can tell the way I play; I’m all about team, ‘we,’ and everything. Everything will be all right. It’s not as bad as people make it sound.”
Brad Stevens made similar comments Thursday morning regarding Rozier’s attitude.
“Terry’s been nothing but a great teammate here, and nothing but a great guy here,” said the coach. “He’s never said a word to me.”
Stevens also spoke about Rozier’s limited playing time. He said that as many as nine players on Boston’s roster are going to feel frustrations throughout this season with regard to the time they spend on the court, simply because the team is so loaded with talent. Stevens sees that as a good thing, rather than a bad thing, and in particular with Rozier.
“You wouldn’t expect anyone that’s as ambitious or as accomplished as him to feel any differently than that,” Stevens said.
The internal discussion regarding Rozier is focused far more on his actual play than it is his playing time. The point guard said that Stevens approached him after Tuesday’s practice to talk about how he can become more effective in his reserve role.
“He came up to me and (said), ‘It’s not good to press and play,’” Rozier revealed. “I can’t press myself and play.
“I felt like I was doing that a little bit … If I’m pressing, then it’ll be tough to play, so it made sense,” he said. “Free mind, and everything is going good.”
Stevens later gave more insight on the conversation.
“Sometimes when you’re playing less, you figure the best way to [make an impact] is to be ultra-aggressive right out of the gate instead of letting the game and the easy play come to you,” said Stevens. “That’s something that’s hard to adjust to, and I think anybody would be struggling to adjust to. So not surprised at all that that’s part of it. And (it’s) also one of the reasons why not I’m not gonna stop playing him the way he’s playing. He’ll get through this and he’ll be great because of who he is.”
That right there is the key to this storyline. Rozier, Stevens, Ainge and the Celtics know that Rozier’s character is top-notch. He has never and will never make a peep about his playing time.
He’s more concerned with figuring out how to impact games in his new role and help this Celtics team compete for a championship.