Payton Pritchard may be on the move this summer as the Celtics look to possibly make some roster decisions.
Following a Game 7 blowout loss to the Miami Heat nearly two weeks ago in the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston's depth at point guard may not be a luxury they'll be able to afford with the new collective bargaining agreement set to kick in next season.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Jake Fischer, Pritchard's name will definitely be involved when it comes to trade talks this offseason for the Celtics.
"Payton Pritchard, the former first-round pick who fell out of Boston's rotation, has several supporters in Phoenix's front office, sources said, and is expected to feature prominently in the NBA's general trade landscape this summer, when Pritchard becomes extension eligible," Fisher wrote.
With reports that the Suns are ready to move on from Chris Paul via trade or by waiving him, Fischer also pointed out that Phoenix is interested in young point guards such as the Knicks' Immanuel Quickley, Davion Mitchell of the Kings, the Wizards' Monte Morris, the Heat's Gabe Vincent, and former Celtic Terry Rozier -- among others.
The Suns only have six players under contract for the upcoming 2023-24 season, including Paul. Four of those players are making at least $10 million per year, which could make a trade involving Pritchard a bit difficult because the Celtics can't take in much more salary than what's left on the final year of the veterans' rookie deal at $4 million.
Pritchard, who expressed a desire to be moved prior to this years' trade deadline, fell out of C's coach Joe Mazzulla's rotation after making strides during his first two seasons in Boston.
"After I'm done here, after this year, I'd like to be part of a bigger role a little bit," Pritchard said when asked to predict his next 5-10 years on the Point Forward Podcast back in late January. "I definitely do, it's obviously what I worked for. I think that's what Brad and them know too, we've had that discussion, but a bigger role. I want to be part of a winning culture but I want to also help that, be a really big piece of that. I'm not saying it's the best player on the team but I don't know what my future holds unless I can take that next step."
The Celtics point guard was the No. 26th overall pick during the 2020 Draft, as Pritchard averaged 7.7 points on 56.7% shooting from the field in 66 games played (28 starts) in year one, before hitting 41.2% from 3-point territory the following season under Ime Udoka -- while also playing consistent minutes in the team's run to the NBA Finals.
However, Pritchard, this season only saw the floor in 48 games (mostly garbage time) with the arrival of Malcolm Brogdon last summer, connecting on 36.4% from behind the arc and only averaged 5.6 points in 13.4 minutes per contest -- all career lows.
Shortly after the Celtics were eliminated from the postseason by the Heat, Pritchard reportedly "made it clear" once again that he'd like to be traded this summer.
"We don't know how that's all going to shake itself out, moving forward, and so I'm a big Payton fan, I believe in him," Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said about Pritchard's situation during his end-of-season presser. "And everybody here does, and we'll see how everything shakes itself out. Again, he's a good player."
With the pending supermax extension of Jaylen Brown this offseason and Jayson Tatum next year, plus Grant Williams' restricted free agency within the upcoming weeks, the clock is ticking for the Celtics to make a choice to either keep Pritchard or part ways with the young veteran point guard.
Photo used courtesy USA Today
Photo used courtesy USA Today