The Boston Celtics have three players on rookie contracts whose options for next season were due to get picked up today at the latest. This afternoon they made it official that they have picked up the options on Marcus Smart (4th year) and Terry Rozier (3rd year), while James Young (4th year) was left out in the cold. Young will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
When you look at the three players' careers with the Celtics so far it all makes sense, since Young is the only one of the trio who hasn't earned a spot in the 10-11 man rotation, yet, and the $2.8 million he would be owed next season if the Celtics picked up his option could become valuable cap space next summer. Young might also be easier to use as a filler in a trade this season without a guarantee for next season.
Smart has proven his worth even though there are concerns about his three point shooting, his injuries and sometimes his decision making. But Smart can be a match-up nightmare for many guards due to his size, his strength, and his aggressive defense. Head coach Brad Stevens even calls him the team's "sixth starter". He will make his season debut on Wednesday when the Celtics have a "revenge game" against the Chicago Bulls at the TD Garden.
Rozier took over as a playmaker
Rozier already proved himself during the playoff series against Atlanta last season even though he was a rookie with few minutes under his belt from the regular season, and he hasn't looked back since. He stormed through Summer League, and during training camp, it became clear that he had earned playmaking duties for the second unit even when sharing the floor with Smart.
The Boston bench has struggled with consistency and execution without two of their main cogs, Smart and Kelly Olynyk, but Rozier has been a bright spot with averages of 6.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes/game.
Young is stuck behind Gerald Green
Even though he beat out R.J. Hunter for the 15th spot on the roster, James Young still has a steep hill to climb before he makes it. While he had a few appearances in green in his first two seasons he has yet to see the floor this season. That has very much to do with veteran Gerald Green's return to Boston as a free agent this summer. Not only do they play the exact same role on the floor, but Green is so far a much bigger threat as an explosive scorer and at veterans minimum wage he is also dirt cheap even compared to a rookie scale contract.
Young will probably need to beat out Green in practice, which would be great news for him and the team, or wait until a rotation spot opens up due to injury or a trade. Otherwise, he is far from guaranteed to get more than garbage time minutes and an occasional cameo.
It appears that center Kelly Olynyk will become a restricted free agent next summer since he hasn't reached an agreement with the Celtics on an extension after his rookie contract.