The Hornets are filling the Kemba Walker-sized hole in their backcourt by acquiring Terry Rozier in a sign-and-trade with the Celtics, according to multiple reports. As part of the deal, Rozier has agreed to a three-year, $58 million contract with Charlotte. As a backup to Kyrie Irving, Rozier averaged 9.0 points, 2.3 assists, and 3.9 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game for Boston last season.
This is...an interesting move for Charlotte. The Hornets are basically doubling down on their mistake of not trading Walker during the season by bringing in a high-priced guard to replace him. What’s the use of paying Rozier nearly $20 million a season for three years if the plan is to tank anyway? If the Hornets are serious about a rebuild, now was the time to get rid of big money instead of adding another solidly sized deal to a roster already filled with high-priced veterans.
Rozier just doesn’t really fit in with a rebuild like this one. Scary Terry made it obvious after last season he wanted more shots and a bigger role. He could get that in Charlotte, but it would come at the cost of handing over the keys of the team to the draft picks in place, namely Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, and P.J. Washington.
This move screams panic after the Hornets lowballed Walker and let Lamb walk. At that juncture, Charlotte’s best bet would have likely been standing pat and going forward full force with a youth movement. Rozier doesn’t prevent that necessarily, but he’ll command the ball on a team that should realistically be focused on bottoming out and shedding salary as opposed to taking on such an expensive—and unproven—player.
The Hornets are obviously banking on Rozier finding the form he had two seasons ago, when he excelled in the absence of Irving. He was also surrounded by much more talent in that situation. If Rozier can somehow recreate his 2018 playoffs, this is a fine deal for Charlotte, but even then it doesn’t really help them rebuild the roster. Ultimately, this is a costly move for a team with an already expensive roster that has limited long-term upside. The first few hours of free agency haven’t exactly been kind to the Hornets.