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Miami Heat Tip Off Trade Deadline Season with Terry Rozier Deal

The Miami Heat became the latest team to make a power play in the eastern conference by trading a protected first-round pick and Kyle Lowry for Terry Rozier, according to Adrian Wojnarowksi. The move strengthened arguably Boston’s biggest threat in the east ahead of their second meeting this season on Thursday, with Rozier filling a position of need during what’s been a career season for him with the Charlotte Hornets.

For Charlotte, after finishing 10-31 through the halfway point, the deal sends a signal that they’re officially in reset mode, with Lowry, Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges, at least, inevitably available in the final seasons of their contracts with the team. The Hornets underwent ownership change to begin the years and reports pointed toward a potential front office shift after a mix of mediocre and more recently poor results under GM Mitch Kupchak. Charlotte extended Rozier for $24.1-million average salary through 2026 before last year.

Through LaMelo Ball’s injury-plagued start and tons of losses, Rozier averaged 23.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.6 assists and maintained his career average of 1.1 steals per game. He shot 45.9% from the field, his best mark in nine seasons, and hit 35.8% from three on 7.7 attempts per game, slightly down from his usual 36.7% mark. His increase in overall efficiency stemmed from a bump in the mid-range (48%) and success above the break (39.6%). His success from deep came off the dribble (45%) while he struggled on catch-and-shoot opportunities (28%).

Recent seasons haven’t treated Rozier kindly on the defensive end, another point of intrigue as he joins a flexible roster that clearly saw him as a potential finishing touch to this year’s team. Opponents shot 49.7% when matched up against Rozier, who allowed 0.96 points per possession in isolation while faring slightly better against pick-and-rolls (0.87 PPP). Rozier played solid defense during his Boston years, adept at staying with quick guards and forcing turnovers with his quick hands and feet. He won’t capably defend up to players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum at 6-1, at least on his own.

That’s what makes the addition intriguing, with the Heat continuing to succeed integrating new players into their defensive system, Rozier moves from the 30th-ranked defense to a top-10 unit in Miami. While better individually than Lowry on both ends at this point, particularly on offense, it’s worth watching how he fits into what the Heat want to do on both ends, whether screening, shifting on and off the ball, or playing some zone.

Ever keeping their eye on future opportunities to land stars, the Heat now maintain Rozier’s $24.9-million salary this summer to use as part of an ensuing deal while Lowry’s $29.7-million deal expires and would’ve inevitably become a small deal if not a minimum. Maintaining that salary base on a roster above the cap remains important as anything else gained in this deal. It only so happens that Miami adds a dangerous, albeit streaky, scorer with a capable shot and two-way potential in the deal. Rozier turned 29 this year, and becomes the latest in a line of former Celtics including Rozier, Kelly OlynykJae CrowderMax Strus and Ray Allen to land in Miami.

To the north, all eyes will now land on another former Celtic in Hayward, who’s playing on an expiring $31.5-million contract and still playing productive basketball at 33. He’s currently out with a left calf strain and injuries always remain a concern. While nobody will rush to match his salary and offer Charlotte assets, he could land on the buyout market and provide non-apron teams a boost at the wing. The Warriors, Clippers, Celtics, Suns, Bucks, Heat and Nuggets cannot sign players bought out for over $12.4 million like Hayward or Lowry. Miami owing a protected pick to the Thunder in 2026 could also impact their ability to move future selections after opening the door to conveying their pick to Charlotte in either 2027 (non-lottery) or 2028 (unprotected).

That creates an opportunity for contenders below the apron line like New York, Dallas, the Lakers and Wolves. For the purposes of the Celtics, the Knicks already added O.G. Anunoby weeks ago, became an early favorite to land Bruce Brown from Toronto in a follow-up trade to the one that sent Pascal Siakam to the Pacers. While top-tier contenders like the Celtics, 76ers and Bucks will largely sit dormant due to cap and draft pick restrictions placed on them due to past moves, Hayward could allow one of the league’s middle-tier teams to narrow the gap.

The Heat, having made 3-of-4 east finals, sit closer to the top three after this move after already moving past losing Strus and Gabe Vincent quickly by inserting rookie Jaime Jaquez and returning Tyler Herro and Josh Richardson to their rotation. They host the Celtics on Thursday on the second half of a back-to-back, with the regular seasons still of secondary concern to their annual playoff bump. Boston beat Miami handily in October to win the home opener and a second straight crunch time game.

For Boston, still assessing moves ahead of the trade deadline, confidence remains high internally in the bench unit that’s seen consistently impactful performances from Payton PritchardSam HauserLuke Kornet and Oshae Brissett, a strong candidate to fill the depth wing role vacated by Grant Williams. Williams’ 1-for-4, two-point showing off Dallas’ bench in the Celtics’ win on Monday hardly left any regrets over not matching his roughly mid-level contract, but the Celtics still have to ask which players off their bench could reliably contribute to a playoff call.

More likely than not, only one player will have to play spot minutes alongside Al Horford in the playoff rotation. An injury could call for a more reliable backup addition like Mike Muscala one year ago, but for two second-round picks, Muscala rarely played then became salary filler in a trade. Boston then restocked its second-round pick allotment on draft night by moving back to round two.

The Celtics won’t overextend themselves to add, especially in pole position due to consistently winning games down multiple rotation players. Brad Stevens cautioned against disrupting a team’s dynamic earlier this month in previewing Boston’s deadline approach, and while he’s surprised in the past, spoke with indisputable honestly in acknowledging the Celtics’ limited tools to improve. High stakes make adding a rotation player worth exploring. Boston will mostly watch teams like Miami try to make up ground the Celtics covered in the summer.

Bobby Manning

Boston Celtics beat reporter for CLNS Media and host of the Garden Report Celtics Post Game Show. NBA national columnist for Boston Sports Journal. Contributor to SB Nation's CelticsBlog. Host of the Dome Theory Sports and Culture Podcast on CLNS. Syracuse University 2020.

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