Just like Kemba Walker, Terry Rozier’s first game with his new team is against his old team.
In what amounted to a July swap of point guards, Walker ended up with the Boston Celtics and Rozier with the Charlotte Hornets. On Sunday, those teams play against each other in the first preseason exhibition at TD Garden.
In four seasons with the Celtics, Rozier never got a chance to be a starter in more than occasional appearances. All-Stars Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving played in front of him. Thomas is now with the Washington Wizards, and Irving signed in July with the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics initially made a qualifying offer to restrict Rozier’s free agency, then made a deal to sign Walker for $141 million over four seasons.
The Hornets offered Rozier about $57 million over three seasons to replace Walker. Since the Hornets didn’t have enough salary cap to cover that contract, they arranged a sign-and-trade with the Celtics, who will likely get a future second-round pick from Charlotte.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Saturday he knows Rozier’s limited playing time in Boston frustrated him, and he’s pleased Rozier got this platform to start.
“Terry and I spent a lot of time in discussions throughout (last season), where obviously he was frustrated. But I don’t think he ever let him affect how he worked and competed. That was something I always appreciated about him,” Stevens said.
“After he signed that deal (with Charlotte), it was fun to text back-and-forth and see his reaction. I was really excited for him. He was such a fun person to be around in his young years in the NBA. He’s going to be a really good player there for a long time.”
Asked about returning to Boston, Rozier said Thursday he’s thankful he has had the longevity and health to get a second NBA contract and play for multiple teams.
“It’s gonna be nice,” Rozier said. “I’m looking forward to talking a little smack for old-times sake.”