Terry Rozier has agreed to a three-year, $58 million sign-and-trade deal with the Charlotte Hornets, as first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The deal sends the Hornets’ franchise player, Kemba Walker, to Boston on a reported four-year, $141 million contract.
The Logistics of the Deal
The three-team deal was agreed on primarily based on the ability for each team involved to have more cap flexibility because a player’s salary is different on the books when acquiring them via sign-and-trade. According to The Athletic’s, Danny Leroux, the Hornets were able to retain their MLE (mid-level exception), Bi-Annual and other exceptions due to them completing this sign-and-trade deal. Prior to the trade, Charlotte only had the smaller MLE exception so this deal gives the Hornets more cap flexibility to sign more free agents to fill up the remainder of the roster.
The Hornets knew a Kemba Walker departure from Charlotte was inevitable due to them only making the playoffs twice during Walker’s tenure along with the Hornets reportedly not offering Kemba the full five-year, $221 million super max contract. So they looked to strike a deal to receive compensation in return for Walker with a shot-creating scoring point guard in Terry Rozier. The Rozier contract is slightly above his market value but the Hornets saw him as the best replacement for Kemba as a guy who could potentially fill the role of the team’s primary scorer in James Borrego’s offense.
The Hornets have committed to being in full rebuild mode and will likely be a lottery team again this season but they can still make some moves in free agency to beef up their roster. Charlotte is currently $13 million under the luxury tax after that trade and can use the full $9.3 million MLE on one or more players as they look to fill out the roster that currently has 12 players under contract at this time.
They will likely be an over the cap team this year as they wait for the hefty Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, and Cody Zeller contracts to expire. Those deals will be off the books by 2021 and in the meantime, Mitch Kupchak will look to shop those contracts to unload them from the books as they draw interest from teams in need around the league.
Terry Rozier’s Fit
Terry Rozier should not look to be anything close to Kemba Walker and what he did for the Hornets and the city of Charlotte since he was drafted in 2011. Kemba Walker was the backbone of this franchise and was the sole reason behind every bit of their success over his eight-year tenure. Terry Rozier will not be the next Kemba Walker but he can bring some valuable things to the Hornets in a role he is suited for.
Terry Rozier saw much success during the 2017-’18 season with the Boston Celtics as the team’s starting point guard after Kyrie Irving’s season-ending injury. During the 2018 NBA Playoffs, Rozier averaged 16.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.7 APG, and 1.3 steals per game. The Celtics were just one game and a few missed shots away from advancing to the NBA Finals as Rozier leading them as the starting point guard.
Rozier was very unhappy with his role with Boston this year and was very public about it saying to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, “I felt like I went from the passenger seat to the trunk.” Now he is in a situation like he was with Boston after the Irving injury where he can be one of the team’s main focal points on offense as a scorer and playmaker.
Terry Rozier has the ability to light it up and fill the box score but he needs to make some adjustments and improve in some areas first. Rozier is a high usage ball handler and will need to improve his shot selection and field goal percentage, shooting 38 percent from the field for his career. Rozier is a 35 percent three-point shooter for his career. That ability to stretch the floor and draw defenders out as Kemba Walker did is one of several similar abilities of Rozier and Walker. Rozier will need to improve his playmaking as he becomes the team’s primary distributor as well as improving as a finisher at the rim.
Rozier is 24 years old and is embarking on his first opportunity to be a full-fledged starter for a team in the NBA. He will go through some rough patches as he gets adjusted to the biggest workload of his short career. Charlotte is the perfect place for Terry to smooth out the rough patches: they are in a full rebuild mode. Jeremy Lamb signed with the Indiana Pacers so Rozier is the lead guard at the moment for this Hornets team. Malik Monk has not satisfied expectations during his first two years with the Hornets but look for James Borrego to pair Monk and Rozier in the backcourt going forward. It’s always exciting when a young player is given the chance to prove his worth as a starter, and it should be very interesting watching Rozier give it his all.