(WEEI) It took a little while for it to become clear the Boston Celtics would have a more challenging 2018-19 season than everyone initially expected. They were only able to overcome their in-house issues so much, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the second round of the NBA playoffs and essentially becoming the laughingstock of Boston's major four sports teams.
Early on, Gordon Hayward's play seemed to be part of the issue. He hadn't bounced back from a serious leg injury in the manner many expected. But even then, it didn't seem like there was a significant team issue until they held a meeting after the Bucks embarrassed them, 120-107, on Dec. 21.
Apparently, the Celtics knew they were going to have problems long before that. Or maybe Terry Rozier just knew before everyone else did.
Rozier told ESPN's Mike Greenberg on Tuesday's edition of "Get Up!" he knew after roughly five games the Celtics were going to have problems reintegrating Kyrie Irving and Hayward, who missed last season's stirring playoff run.
"Once you (saw) all the talent we had, all the pieces, guys trying to figure out their role and guys trying to do less of what would have helped this team win, just for the team they (were) trying to less," Rozier said. "You (could) already see it in the first five games of the season."
As Rozier delved into the issues further, he reinforced the point: The "young guys" wanted to do it their way, Irving wanted to do it his.
"I think we all had that ultimate goal," Rozier said. "I think guys, me, Jayson (Tatum), Jaylen (Brown), we had a terrific postseason last year and I think we (were) trying to come in and do the same thing this year."
But the issues run deeper than that. Rozier gave some insight as to what went on with Brad Stevens and Irving.
Rozier said Irving was a "great guy, great leader," but teammates "have to adjust to his style."
"Whatever Kyrie wants done, he's going to show it, that's what he wants done," Rozier said. "And you have to adjust to his style of play and how he goes about every game and every day."
(That doesn't sound at all like someone looking to control everything, right?)
"I think we all felt good about it, having practice, our discussions, film talk, but then every time we (would) get in the game, it's just like, I wouldn't say we wouldn't follow the game plan, but it'd be different," Rozier continued.
Rozier will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and the New York Knicks are reportedly interested.
So he had an agenda here, just as Marcus Smart or Aron Baynes -- who are signed for next season -- might have reasons to defend the Celtics.
All of this brings things back to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge. Clearly Rozier had a lot of issues with what went down. Why keep someone like that around when you believe you have a legitimate shot at making it to the NBA Finals?
One logical explanation: Irving sticking with Boston in the long term doesn't look promising. By keeping Rozier, the Celtics felt they had a shot at signing their 2015 first-round draft pick after the season.
After saying in his appearance on "Get Up!" that he didn't care where he went this summer, whether "it's with the Celtics or it's anywhere else," Rozier made it sound on "First Take" as if he's done with the C's:
The only safe prediction in this unpredictable situation: Rozier and Irving will not be teammates next year.
By Nick Friar