Perley’s Press Pass: Both Rozier, Thomas Finally Find What They’ve Been Looking For

by Quinton Wash

Four years before he became the starting point guard of the Charlotte Hornets, then rookie Terry Rozier was staring up from the very bottom of the Boston Celtics depth chart.

One of the veterans ahead of Rozier in the pecking order was eventual two-time NBA All-Star Isaiah Thomas, who is now part of the Washington Wizards’ starting backcourt. Standing 5’8”, Thomas averaged 25.5 PPG across his two full seasons in Boston, quickly becoming a fan favorite in large part due to the heart and emotion he played with on the floor.

Thomas was dealt to Cleveland in a blockbuster trade during the 2017 offseason and Rozier eventually became the backup to incoming point guard Kyrie Irving. Now a full-time starter for the first time in his NBA career, Rozier is finally where he’s worked so hard and longed to be and Thomas says he couldn’t be happier for his close friend.

“He’s very talented. I played two years with Terry,” Thomas stated on Tuesday morning after Washington’s shootaround in Charlotte. “He’s a really good basketball player and a really good person. He’s somebody that I’m really happy for. I’m glad he’s gotten the opportunity that he’s always wanted and he deserves it.”

He added, “He’s somebody who’s a student of the game, always asking questions, always wanted to be really good. He’s gotten his opportunity here with the Hornets and I’m happy for him. He has so much to prove and so much to look forward to. He’s got a great career ahead of him and he’s one of my close friends in the NBA.”

“That’s my guy. That’s my guy,” countered Rozier following the Charlotte win, which Thomas missed because of a minor calf strain. “The true definition of a guy who has heart. He loves this game and I learned so much from him early on in the league. I’m forever carrying it with me the things that I learned. He’s always been great and a guy that I can always reach out to whether things are going good or bad. He’s somebody I can always talk to. He has my best interests at heart.”

Although Rozier is averaging career highs in nearly every major statistical category including points (17.3), assists (4.3), steals (1.1), field-goal percentage (42.7%) and three-point percentage (40.1%), Thomas is convinced that’s just a small taste of what’s to come.

“He has a lot more,” Thomas added. “What he’s doing right now is only a little bit of what he can ultimately do. He’s very talented and somebody with real hoop game and one of my favorite players in the NBA.”

Going back two-and-a-half years, a torn hip muscle suffered late in the 2016-17 regular season (one in which he was named to the All-NBA Second Team) eventually sent Thomas’ promising career wayward. Four teams and one arthroscopic surgery later, the 30-year-old is averaging an efficient 12.6 PPG and 5.7 APG as a primary starter his season and most importantly, has steered clear of any major long-term injuries.

“I couldn’t be happier for him,” said Rozier. “He’s got a love for the game and just wants to get out there and play again. I’m glad that he found a home and can showcase his talent.”

Once teammates and forever friends, Terry Rozier and Isaiah Thomas both share a mutual happiness for one another, grateful that the other has finally found what he’s been searching for.

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