After the Celtics were walloped in Game 5 of the conference semifinals against the Bucks last Wednesday, bringing their season to an end, point guard Terry Rozier sat at his locker and let out some of his frustrations.
“Definitely didn’t go the way we all want,” he said of the season. “I thank God for my family and my boys back at the crib. They kept me level-headed all year. Because I’ve been dealing with some [expletive].”
On Tuesday morning, Rozier went on ESPN and elaborated on his frustrations from this season, when he struggled to fit into a reduced role after Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returned from injuries.
In interviews on “Get Up” and “First Take,” Rozier talked about the challenges that came from playing alongside Irving, whose presence he said sometimes rattled on-court chemistry and game plans.
“We would come in the game and it would be a different game plan than what we kind of expected and kind of went through in practice, so it was different,” Rozier said. “We had the first five and then we had the second five.
“And when we go out there, I feel like a lot of guys would be mixed up. It wouldn’t be the first five and the second five. So what we’d be talking about in practice is not what we went through in the game.
“It was like, ‘All right, we’re going to keep Kyrie out there and put the other guys out there with him, and we’re going to figure it out.’ ”
Rozier said Irving and Hayward were treated by the coaching staff in a way that made it difficult to make adjustments “because they are who they are.”
“The ball was in either Kyrie or Gordon Hayward’s hands most of the time,” Rozier said. “So I feel like Terry Rozier is just in the corner or on the bench.”
With Irving sidelined after left knee surgery, Rozier starred in the 2018 playoffs, averaging 16.5 points, 5.7 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per game. He knew he would relinquish the starting job once Irving returned, but he still thought he would have a more sizable role.
But Rozier played just 22.7 minutes per game during the season and never regained his playoff rhythm, averaging 9 points and 2.9 assists while making just 38.7 percent of his shots.
Rozier, 25, is now a restricted free agent, meaning the Celtics have the right to match any offer sheet he signs with another team. If Irving re-signs, Rozier might become expendable. But if Irving leaves, the fact that Boston is over the salary cap could limit its options and make Rozier’s return quite likely.
When he was asked after the Bucks loss about the possibility of Boston matching another team’s offer, Rozier replied: “No comment.”
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith pressed a bit more, asking him if he’d be comfortable returning to Boston if the roster remained the same.
“Nah, I might have to go,” Rozier said. “I might have to go. I put up with a lot this year, so I said what I said after the season and I think we all know I’m not trying to step into that again.”
Rozier, who drafted with the 16th overall pick in 2015, said he has loved his time with the Celtics, but believes he now deserves a chance to do more, whether in Boston or elsewhere.
“I feel like I can be myself and play my game wherever I go,” he said.