Despite an NBA-best 25-10 start, the Boston Celtics remain in the rumor mill with outside organizations reportedly interested in one veteran guard.
Payton Pritchard hasn’t seen a whole lot of playing time this season in his third campaign. He’s notched a career-low 10.5 minutes through 21 games. Yet, that isn’t putting a halt to his garnered interest with plenty of time before the Feb. 9 trade deadline, according to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.
Not surprisingly, Pritchard’s new situation has other teams sniffing around. Clubs have been investigating whether he might be worth pursuing in a trade (he makes $2.2 million this year and $4.0 million next).
Considering the Celtics are stacked at the guard position this season, Pritchard’s odd-man-out situation comes as no surprise. Boston already has its go-to man in assists leader Marcus Smart. Last season, they added Derrick White, and during the offseason, they acquired Malcolm Brogdon — who leads all reserves in scoring at 13.3 points.
Pritchard, on the other hand, has been left to claw for minutes. He’s averaged 4.4 points on four field-goal attempts along with 1.2 assists per contest — all career lows. When given the nod to start against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 21, Pritchard scored just three points with four assists in 17 minutes.
His efficiency in knocking down outside shots also has taken a toll. The 24-year-old has shot a career-worst 34% from 3-point range on just 2.4 attempts. Pritchard, in fact, hasn’t once netted two-plus 3-point attempts through eight games in December.
However, the on-court struggles haven’t caused potential suitors to look the other way. One anonymous league source noted several teams have been “checking in” on the Oregon product.
“You’ve got to wonder about him defensively at that size, but he plays hard, he can really push the ball and he’s got a nice stroke from 3,” one personnel said, per Bulpett. “I like what I see, but it’s hard to say for sure if he could do more with a better opportunity. And first, you have to ask if he’s better than what you have and if he’ll even get more of a look with your team. It’s hard to say, but I know I’m not the only team checking on him. It’s always natural in these situations.”
With Boston having a trio of better options to choose from, Pritchard has served as just an insurance piece. Perhaps a move before the trade deadline makes sense for both sides.