OCTOBER 10: Pritchard’s contract extension is now official, the Celtics have announced in a press release.
“In addition to his great skill, Payton brings toughness, resiliency, and diligence that collectively elevate the room,” president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said in a statement. “We are excited that he chose to extend with the Celtics and look forward to what’s ahead.”
OCTOBER 8: The Celtics and guard Payton Pritchard are in agreement on a four-year rookie scale extension worth $30MM, his agents at CAA Basketball tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). The deal will be fully guaranteed, Wojnarowski adds.
The 26th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Pritchard had a promising rookie season, averaging 7.7 points per game with a .440/.411/.889 shooting line in 66 contests (19.2 MPG). He had his role cut back in his second and third seasons though — in 2022/23, he played just 13.4 minutes per night, averaging 5.6 PPG on .412/.364/.750 shooting.
Due to his declining role, Pritchard admitted back in February that he had hoped to be traded at the deadline to a team that intended to use him more. However, following the offseason trades of Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon, the 25-year-old is expected to have an expanded role in a new-look Boston backcourt behind Jrue Holiday and Derrick White.
Pritchard is apparently confident enough in his new role to sign a long-term deal with the Celtics well in advance of the October 23 deadline for rookie scale extensions. The former Oregon guard has only earned only approximately $6.4MM in his first three NBA seasons and will make $4.04MM in 2023/24, so it certainly makes sense that he’d want to lock in a contract that guarantees him $30MM, exponentially increasing his career earnings.
While Pritchard’s numbers to date have been modest, the Celtics are taking a calculated risk that he’ll increase his value in 2023/24 as he comes off a stint with the USA Select Team and receives a minutes bump. By deciding to extend him in advance of a possible breakout year, Boston now won’t have to worry about warding off potential suitors for Pritchard in restricted free agency next summer.
Pritchard’s new deal will further increase a Celtics payroll that appears likely to go well beyond the luxury tax line again in 2024/25, with big-money cap hits for Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, White, and Al Horford already on the books. The club also reportedly has interest in negotiating an extension with Holiday, who holds a $39.4MM player option for ’24/25.
As our extension tracker shows, Pritchard is the seventh player to agree to a rookie scale extension in 2023, joining LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Desmond Bane, Devin Vassell, and Isaiah Stewart. A total of 20 more players are still eligible to sign a rookie scale extension by Oct. 23.