NBA

Is Terry Roziers’ $97 million contract worth more than Marcus Smart?

Apr 25, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier (3) runs the offense against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) in the first half at Spectrum Center. The Charlotte Hornets won 125-104. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
© Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets and Terry Rozier agreed on a four-year, $97 million contract extension. This deal guarantees him a contract until 2025-26, which should be the best years of his career during that period. Marcus Smart accepted the Boston Celtics four-year $77.1 million contract, guaranteed until 2025-26. If he remains in Boston, he’ll be there for 11 straight years.

Rozier spent four years in Boston, averaging 7.7 PPG while shooting 38 percent on Field Goal. Before eventually moving to Charlotte in 2019.

Small market vs. Big market:

Apr 25, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) looks to shoot against Charlotte Hornets forward Cody Martin (11) during the third quarter at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets are a small-market franchise. They don’t have many stars on their team, especially now that they rejuvenated their core, with Rookie of the Year Lamelo Ball, PJ Washington, and Miles Bridges.

As the rookie contracts begin to expire, the Hornets will have to pay them. At 27 years old, Rozier is the oldest of the core, and this contract is a statement to keep him there throughout what should be the best years of his career.

On the other hand, Boston is a big market. They will top the tax luxury line to pay their young core and even acquire big-time free agents. The Celtics have locked up Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, and their heart and soul, Marcus Smart.

Marcus Smart has been an incredible player for the team, playing with a ferocious defense, stepping up when needed. The city loves him, and the franchise trusts him enough to make sure he’ll stay there another four years. Some people even think Smart’s not worthy of this contract, claiming that he got overpaid.

However, even though Boston is a big-market team, they will pay Smart less money than Rozier from the Hornets. It’s important to realize that the Celtics sent Terry to Charlotte, showing they do not trust their future in him.

It’s understandable why the Hornets will pay him that amount, considering they have a lot of money to spend. But will Rozier be there when it matters the most?

Playoff performance

May 30, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) and Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) reach for the ball during the second half of game four in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s have a look at the Playoffs. The Playoffs are the biggest stage for any player to perform, the great ones will shine, and their teams’ success follows. So, it’s necessary to compare Rozier and Smart’s playoffs contributions to see who steps up and makes the right plays in the biggest stage of the season.

Terry, in the Playoffs, averaged a total of 9.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 0.8 SPG on 39.3 field goal percentage, 33.5 three-point percentage, and 80.9 free-throw percentage.

Marcus, in the Playoffs, averaged a total of 11.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, on 37.3 field goal percentage, 32 three-point percentage, and 73.9 free-throw percentage.

According to their career playoff stats, Marcus has the upper hand. However, he played 31.8 minutes per game compared to Terry’s 24.7 minutes. In addition, Smart has played in the NBA since 2014, while Terry has played since 2015. So, to make this fairer, it’s necessary to compare their stats in the Playoffs this year.

Unfortunately, Terry did not make the Playoffs this year, as the Hornets reached the Play-in, losing to the Indiana Pacers. So, this will be the only game used, which is still essential since the play-in game was an elimination game.

Rozier averaged 16 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 6 APG, 1 SPG, and 1 BPG while shooting at a 35 field goal percentage, 100 free-throw percentage, and the most relevant, 0 three-point percentage (0-9 FG).

Smart averaged 17.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 6 APG, 1 SPG, and 0.2 BPG while shooting at a 43.9 field goal percentage, 71.4 free-throw percentage, and 37.2 three-point percentage.

When it counts the most, Marcus Smart has the leverage on Terry Rozier. It’s worth noting that Smart played against the second seed Brooklyn Nets, while Rozier played the ninth seed Indiana Pacers.

The role of each player

May 18, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis (11) dribbles the ball while Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier (3) and forward P.J. Washington (25) defend in the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Terry is the starting point guard of the Charlotte Hornets. He’s one of their primary focus on offense, can help with playmaking, create his shots, and has decent athleticism.

Smart can play either at point guard or shooting guard, always contributing with his all-defense skills, playmaking, and improving his shot selection, further increasing his points per game. But he’s also the heart, the leader of the team.

As the 2021/22 approaches, it looks like the Hornets want to allow Terry to contribute more, removing Devonte Graham from the team. So, it’s likely Terry will improve his numbers again, winning a nomination to the all-star game soon. Even with LaMelo Ball controlling the ball, Rozier should contribute more to the team than Gordon Hayward, who deals more often with injuries, struggling to be healthy.

Alternatively, Marcus looks to be the starting point guard unless Ime Udoka decides to start Dennis Schroder and allows Marcus to play as a shooting guard. Either way, he’ll contribute more this season with his playmaking, as the new head coach, Ime Udoka, prioritizes ball movement. Nevertheless, the Celtics’ primary focus will be to build around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, which means he’ll be the third star at best.

Indeed, Marcus Smart has a more prominent presence on the roster, contributing to crucial moments for the team consistently. However, things are yet to be decided with Ime Udoka and the Celtics’ direction moving forward. Rozier, on the other side, looks to have a more significant role in the Hornets.

Even if he’s not able to perform, it’s notable that the Hornets will struggle more than the Celtics will with Smart in a bad game. In other words, Terry Rozier’s contract is more valuable than Marcus Smart’s.

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