Charlotte Hornets: Evaluating Terry Rozier’s extension

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 09 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 09 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

It’s only been two years since the Charlotte Hornets decided to move on from their star player and face of the franchise Kemba Walker. The man that had to step into his shoes has filled in admirably on the court and just got his reward for doing so.

Wednesday morning it was reported by Shams Charania that Terry Rozier, the team’s leading scorer for the 2020-21 season, was in line for a max contract extension.

Fans of the Charlotte Hornets might overreact and have visions of the Nicolas Batum failure when they see the words “max” and “contract” together, but Terry Rozier’s play over the last two seasons has earned him a new contract; plus his 2020-21 campaign was the best year of his career.

The Charlotte Hornets punctuated their 2021 offseason by extending a key player. Let’s look at how good this deal actually is for the Hornets.

Further proof that Terry Rozier excelled in the 2020-21 season comes courtesy of CBS Sports HQ. Rozier was just one of four players to post 20 or more points per game last year and hit 200 or more 3-pointers; the other three were Steph Curry, Damian Lillard and Zach LaVine.

Rozier was great went it counted the most too, becoming one of the most clutch players in the league last year according to StatMuse.

Rozier can handle pressure in the clutch, as evidenced against the Sacramento Kings last season. Hayward drives to the basket, gets stopped, tosses it out to “Scary Terry” and Rozier sinks the 3-pointer with ease. But the most impressive game-winning shot from Terry might be from February of this year against the Golden State Warriors.

Financially, the Charlotte Hornets get a great deal. Rozier’s payday per year is only going up $6 million, on average, over the course of this extension. The Hornets are just barely over the cap this season, and with most of the team locked up for the 2022-23 season, Rozier’s extension doesn’t kill them in next year’s cap either.

The best part about is his contract is that he is one of the few long-term signees for the Hornets and the team has plenty of cap flexibility for the 2023-24 season. That could be eaten up by LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges and/or PJ Washington over the next year or two, but it means the Hornets could entertain keeping at least two of those players or make a splash in free agency again.

Since coming to Charlotte, Rozier has gone from role player to starter. And while he’s been more of a point guard his whole career, the breakout of Devonte’ Graham and the addition of LaMelo Ball didn’t stop the Hornets from keeping him in the backcourt with either of them.

With Ball now entrenched as the starting point guard, this new contract shows that they were willing to invest more in Rozier even though they could have likely kept Graham for cheaper than Rozier. Plus with Graham and Malik Monk off the team, the Hornets are signaling they want to build around both Rozier and Ball to build a playoff contender.

Going back to the Kemba Walker comparison, Rozier and Walker have produced close the same per-game stats over the last two years, with Rozier slightly out-scoring Walker on a per-game basis last season. Plus, Rozier has played in early all of the Hornets’ games the last two years, missing only five games; out of a possible 144 games for the Boston Celtics the last two seasons, Kemba has only played in 99 of them.

This is a win-win for both sides. Terry Rozier gets some financial security. The Hornets get a guard that can do it all in the backcourt and has proven to be a durable player his whole career. The Charlotte Hornets may not be a trending pick for making the playoffs for the 2021-22 season, but they are building a team that has the potential to be a consistent playoff contender sooner than later.

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