All season long, the Boston Celtics have proven to be one of the top dogs in the NBA, but when it comes to Point Guard Payton Pritchard, it appears he has been in the dog house rather than within the club’s active rotation.
In his first two seasons in the NBA, Pritchard had put forth some impressive contributions. However, in Year Three, the 25-year-old has not been given that opportunity. He has struggled to come across any consistency in playing time for the two-seeded Celtics. Most of this is in part due to the backcourt talents of Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White all placed before him.
Due to the predicament, Pritchard was rumored in multiple deals around the NBA Trade Deadline. It was also rumored that he was open to the idea in order to secure a larger role elsewhere. On the Jan. 27 episode of “Point Forward”, a podcast hosted by former Celtics Guard Evan Turner and Golden State Vetean Andre Iguodala. Payton Pritchard had this to say:
“After I’m done [in Boston], after this year, I’d like to be part of a bigger role a little bit,” Pritchard said. “I want to be part of a winning culture but I also want to help that, be a really big piece of that. I’m not saying it’s about being the best player on the team but I don’t know what my future holds unless I take that next step.”
Pritchard is still attached to his rookie contract through the 2024-25 season. No such trade came at the deadline, however, this is not to say that the two sides should work something out so that Pritchard can get a bigger role elsewhere.
Four Teams that make sense
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers have never truly had a backup point guard behind Damian Lillard that they can rely on to run an offense/defense. In Pritchard, they’d be getting just that. They’d also be able to bring him home. Pritchard is from Tualatin, OR and played at the University of Oregon.
The Magic may not be sold with their options at Point Guard. Markelle Fultz has has injury issues, Cole Anthony needs the ball in order to be productive. Jalen Suggs appears to be better off-ball as a two-guard. If they are looking to run the ball through Paolo Banchero then a guy like Payton Pritchard, who can manage the game, take care of the ball, and make his shots when needed would be a good fit.
Pritchard is Danny Ainge‘s guy too, don’t forget that. Both were born in Oregon with the Jazz CEO in Eugene. Ainge was the CEO in Boston when Pritchard was drafted, I’m sure he’d love to have him in Utah. The Jazz have the Sixers pick in this years draft and could put together a trade package with it.
The Cavs may be looking for a long-term backup to Darius Garland. The 11-year veteran Ricky Rubio is currently the second option, he’s 32 and has had some injury/health issues over the years. He’s only played 26 games this season.
So by the looks of it, both sides have some options if a trade is on the horizon. Pritchard has established himself as a quality contributor in his young career. He has proven to be more than capable of aiding in winning basketball as he registered the fifth highest plus-minus rating for the Celtics out of those who logged 1,000-plus minutes during their 2021-22 season where they wound up clinching their first NBA Finals berth since 2009-10.
Despite serving in an end-of-the-bench role this season in 2022-23, Prtichard still finds himself sporting impressive averages 20.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per 100 possessions whilst shooting 39.5% from distance. As a backup he most likely won’t get 100 possessions, but he might be able to average half of that.
If Pritchard is placed on the trade block, its almost certain that the young guard will garner some interest this offseason.
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