Terry Rozier met Heat expectations prior to neck injury: ‘Terry was everything that I expected’

The Miami Heat entered this past season with the ability to include two future first-round picks in a trade. The Heat enters this offseason with only one future first-round pick available to throw in a trade.

That’s because the Heat dealt away one of those two first-round picks as part of a trade package, which also included Kyle Lowry, to the Charlotte Hornets to acquire guard Terry Rozier in late January. It marked just the third time in the last decade that the Heat has traded a first-round pick to acquire a player, with the previous two times coming to land Goran Dragic in 2015 and Jimmy Butler in 2019.

In other words, the Heat thinks highly of Rozier.

“We’re happy to have him,” Heat president Pat Riley said last week when asked about Rozier during his season-ending news conference.

The issue is the Heat did not have Rozier, 30, during this year’s playoffs because of a neck injury. Rozier missed the final four games of the regular season, the two play-in games and the entire five-game first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics with what the team listed as neck spasms.

The hope is that Rozier will recover from the neck injury and be ready for the start of next season.

“I see him with a neck brace on, so he’s doing everything that he’s supposed to do,” Riley said. “I met with him the other day and he said he felt good. But this is a process by which it takes time. He gets hit, he hits the floor hard, on pick-and-rolls he gets screened. ... We’re not going to mess around with Terry. He wanted to play desperately, but he couldn’t. That’s it. So it’s going to heal. The doctors have convinced us and him that in time this thing will heal and go away.”

When Rozier was available, the Heat was pleased with what he brought to the team.

Rozier averaged 16.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and one steal per game while shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent on threes in 31 games (30 starts) for the Heat this regular season before being sidelined by the neck injury. With the Heat in need of players who could put pressure on the rim, Rozier provided that by averaging the third-most drives to the basket on the team this season with 10.3 per game behind only Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro.

“I had a great conversation with him about some things,” Riley said when speaking about Rozier. “He’s open, he wanted to know from me what I thought about what he can do even at his age, which is still young. I gave him my opinion and I’m sure he’ll work on it. But he was a great addition for us, absolutely.”

After playing as a high-usage guard who averaged 23.2 points on 18.3 field-goal attempts per game with the Hornets this season prior to the trade, it took Rozier a few weeks to adjust to a more complementary role with the Heat alongside its leading trio of Bam Adebayo, Butler and Herro. But Rozier’s best stretch in a Heat uniform came just before he went out with a neck injury, averaging 18.8 points per game on 45.3 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent shooting on 7.4 three-point attempts per game in his final 10 appearances of the season.

“I mean, he had some games where it was all right there,” Riley said. “But I do think after the trade, it took awhile for him to settle in. Everybody is telling him, ‘Be yourself, be yourself, be yourself.’ Well, being himself in Charlotte is different than being himself here in Miami.

“Our offense [ranked No. 21], we needed more firepower. We felt that he could give it to us and he did.”

But there’s still an element of unknown, as the Heat’s injury issues limited the quartet of Adebayo, Butler, Herro and Rozier to just 10 games together this season.

While it’s still to be determined if they will all be back with the Heat to play in more games together next season, Rozier has two seasons left on his current contract. He’s due $24.9 million next season.

“That’s all going to have to sort itself out with [coach Erik Spoelstra] and the staff, with our key guys who we depend on to score,” Riley said. “But Terry was everything that I expected.”


Heat veteran Kevin Love finished second in the voting among the six finalists for the 2023-24 NBA Sportsmanship Award. Love received 42 first-place votes from the current NBA players who voted for the winner.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey was selected as the winner of the 2023-24 NBA Sportsmanship Award, which honors a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.