Payton Pritchard

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Pritchard, Embiid, Simmons

After having recently made some noncommittal remarks about his future in Boston, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown told reporters that he’s “thinking about clarifying some of the things that have been recently said,” according to Jay King of The Athletic. Asked what he wanted to clarify, however, Brown opted not to explain further.

“Right now the only thing I want to clarify is that the Celtics need to play better and win more games,” Brown said. “If I want to say something in the future about the kind of things that have been floating around I will. But in terms of right now, I like when people hear things from the horse’s mouth and you can see my reaction, my face and everything how I feel about what I’m saying. Sometimes those things can get lost in translation, you know? So if I feel the need to do so I will.”

Brown would be eligible to sign a contract extension anytime during the 2023/24 league year, starting in July. However, because he’s earning well below his maximum salary and would be limited to a 20% raise in the first year of a veteran extension, the Celtics wouldn’t be able to offer him a maximum-salary deal until free agency.

That would change if Brown earns a spot on an All-NBA team this spring, in which case he’d become eligible for a super-max contract extension (worth 35% of the 2024/25 cap) entering the final year of his current deal.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics guard Payton Pritchard returned to action on Tuesday following a nine-game absence due to a left heel injury. According to Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link), Pritchard said he had plantar fasciitis and a bone bruise in the heel.
  • In an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic, Sixers center Joel Embiid discussed his health, the MVP race, and why he won’t necessarily take a “title-or-bust” mentality into this year’s postseason. “People have been talking about who has the most pressure to win. People want to mention me,” Embiid said. “I’m not at the top of that list. I’m not a two-time MVP, I’ve never made first team All-NBA, I’ve never won anything. So why is there pressure on me to do something when there are guys that have won two MVPs, a bunch of MVPs and haven’t done anything either?”
  • Speaking to Ian Begley of and Andrew Crane and Brian Lewis of The New York Post, Ben Simmons‘ new agent Bernie Lee said that Simmons’ back issues are part of the recovery process from the microdiscectomy he underwent last May, adding that the Nets guard/forward won’t require additional surgery and is on track to be ready for training camp in the fall. “Ben is a 26 year-old-guy who is just starting his career and clearly there have been some challenges recently,” Lee told Begley. “But like every truly great person I’ve observed, Ben is motivated internally to continue to develop himself and his talent and test his ability and, most importantly, compete. He simply needs to gain the opportunity to be healthy which we believe we’ve found.”

Atlantic Notes: Johnson, Tatum, Brown, Pritchard, Harris

New Nets forward Cameron Johnson is convinced Brooklyn has enough quality players to make some noise in the postseason, per Jared Schwartz of The New York Post.

“Obviously, combining a couple players, there’s some things we have to iron out,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “But I think the core of what we have, and what we’re trying to do, I think it’s pretty special. We’ve got guys that compete, guys that play hard and you’re gonna start seeing us build this thing together.”

Across his 18 games with his new team, Johnson is averaging 16.2 PPG on .438/.358/.824 shooting. He’s also chipping in 4.7 RPG, 1.9 APG and 1.4 SPG.

The Nets have gone 8-12 since trading All-Star forward Kevin Durant, and have slid to the East’s sixth seed with a 40-34 record.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Asked this week about the conversation he had last summer with teammate Jaylen Brown while rumors circulated that Brown could be involved in a trade for Durant, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum explained what he said during that phone call. “Just re-sharing the obvious that we need him and he’s a big part of this team and this franchise,” Tatum said, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). “Without him, we can’t reach our goal.”
  • Celtics reserve point guard Payton Pritchard had his status upgraded to questionable to play ahead of today’s contest with the Spurs, Weiss tweets. A heel injury has kept Pritchard unavailable for the past three weeks’ worth of games.
  • Sixers power forward Tobias Harris has accepted that he is generally the fourth scoring option for a talented Philadelphia team, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s just staying patient in the flow of everything,” Harris said. “There’s going to be nights where the ball finds me more than others. There’s going to be nights where [it doesn’t]… Really, I just have to be OK with that, and just really do other things on the floor and do things that’s going to help the team win, and stay ready and stay patient.”

Celtics Notes: Brogdon, Pritchard, R. Williams, Brown

Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon is making 45.1% of his three-point attempts this season, which represents a career high and places him third in the NBA. Speaking to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Brogdon suggested that his strong shooting performance is a result of his complementary role, as well as having teammates like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to draw the attention of opposing defenses, which wasn’t the case in Indiana.

“I think I’m less run down,” Brogdon said. “When I was with the Pacers, I had to do a lot. I had to run the show, I had to guard the best player, I had to do a lot. Here, I don’t have to do that. I don’t have all the responsibility. I have a role to play and I specialize in that role.”

Brogdon’s numbers in both Milwaukee and Indiana suggest there may be something to his theory. During his three years as a Pacer, he had a 25.3% usage rate and knocked down a respectable 35.2% of his three-pointers. The last time he had a usage rate lower than this season’s 22.5% was with the Bucks in 2018/19, when he converted 42.6% of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Celtics guard Payton Pritchard, who has been out since March 6 due to a left heel injury, went through a live workout on Thursday and has a chance to return to action before the regular season ends, according to head coach Joe Mazzulla (Twitter links via Jared Weiss of The Athletic). Pritchard was upgraded from out to doubtful for Friday’s game vs. Indiana.
  • Boston held the No. 1 seed in the East for much of the season, but has slipped to second and is just a half-game ahead of the No. 3 Sixers. Still, guard Derrick White said the Celtics – who made last year’s NBA Finals as a No. 2 seed – aren’t too concerned about where they end up. “If we get the one seed, it’s cool,” White said, per Souichi Terada of “If we don’t, it’s the same. We didn’t have it last year so we just want to keep playing the best basketball going into the playoffs, whether we are the No. 1, 2 or 3 (seed). It doesn’t matter.”
  • Robert Williams came off the bench in his return to action on Tuesday following an eight-game injury absence. While Williams may reclaim his starting spot once he gets up to speed, Mazzulla isn’t willing to commit to that plan quite yet, according to Terada. “It’s just going to depend on who we’re playing, who else is healthy and what the matchups are,” the head coach said. “So Grant (Williams) has started, Derrick has started and Rob has started. … So putting our team in a bind like, ‘This is our starting lineup,’ just doesn’t maximize our roster and the lineups that we can play. So we just have to see.”
  • In the wake of Jaylen Brown‘s noncommittal comments about his long-term future in Boston, Sean Deveney of spoke to some rival executives to get their thoughts on which teams might make sense as landing spots for the star wing if he doesn’t re-sign with the Celtics. Brown’s current contract runs through 2024.

Atlantic Notes: McBride, Noel, Pritchard, R. Williams

Miles McBride has been reinserted into the Knicks‘ rotation over the past six games with Jalen Brunson sidelined due to a foot injury. The second-year guard has been making an impact on both ends of the court as of late, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post.

During Sunday’s road victory over the Lakers, McBride recorded eight points (on 3-of-5 shooting) and three steals in 17 minutes, finishing plus-15 in the four-point win.

It’s huge. … But, honestly, if I didn’t score a point and we win, I’d still be happy. Just being able to impact the game however I can always is the number one thing,” McBride said. “I think the second unit knows that when we get in, our job is just look at the score, understand what we have to do as a unit and move the needle. And I think we came in and did that.”

The 22-year-old followed that strong performance with a career-high 18 points (on 6-of-8 shooting), three assists, two blocks and one steal in 25 minutes in Tuesday’s victory at Portland, Botte adds in another story. It remains to be seen if McBride will get minutes once Brunson returns, but he’s certainly building a strong case for himself.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Veteran center Nerlens Noel averaged 14.3 minutes in his three games with the Brooklyn, but a source tells Brian Lewis of The New York Post that the Nets will not bring him back for a second 10-day contract (Twitter link). Noel’s initial deal expires on Wednesday, Lewis notes. Head coach Jacque Vaughn previously suggested that he expected Noel to stick around.
  • Payton Pritchard has switched agents and will now be represented by CAA Sports, the agency announced on Instagram. “At the end of the day, it’s a business decision,” Pritchard told Souichi Terada of “I think when you’re going into making choices on your future and your business, you want somebody that you believe is going to represent you in the best way and really help you. I’m not dissing my previous agent or anything like that. At the end of the day, it’s a nerve-wrecking time so you want to go with somebody that you really believe.” The third-year Celtics guard, who is currently sidelined with a heel injury, will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason. Pritchard previously expressed disappointment that he wasn’t traded ahead of last month’s deadline, as he’s looking for more playing time.
  • Celtics big man Robert Williams could return to action “within the next week or so,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said prior to Wednesday’s matchup with Minnesota (Twitter video link via NBC Sports Boston). Williams has been dealing with a left hamstring strain, but has responded well to treatment and said he was “feeling good” over the weekend.

Celtics Notes: R. Williams, Pritchard, Smart, Roster Spot

Robert Williams said he’s “feeling good” a week after straining his left hamstring and tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe that he hopes to be able to play sometime during the Celtics‘ six-game road trip. However, Williams cautioned that there’s no target date for him to return and said he won’t try to rush back.

“It’s obviously something I want to do, but just trying to check these boxes and make sure it’s straight,” Williams about returning to the court. “It’s kind of tricky, because you can feel great and then get out there and do one hard move and get the pain back, so just trying to watch it.”

Williams added that he’s not sure what caused the injury, which happened during a March 3 game. He said the hamstring started to feel tight while he was running, and he wanted to keep moving to see if that would cause it to loosen up.

The Celtics are likely to be careful with Williams, who has dealt with a variety of injuries throughout his career. He missed the first 32 games of this season while recovering from maintenance surgery on his left knee and has been available for just 28 games.

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Payton Pritchard, who sat out Friday’s game with a heel issue, didn’t accompany the team for the start of the road trip, Himmelsbach adds. Coach Joe Mazzulla wasn’t able to provide an update on Pritchard’s condition during tonight’s pre-game meeting with reporters. The Celtics may keep two-way player JD Davison on their active roster while Pritchard is unavailable, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • Marcus Smart offered his support to Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who was fined $30K this week for harsh criticism of NBA officials, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Smart, who has been involved in numerous run-ins with referees during his career, said he has felt that some officials have “a personal vendetta” against him. “As players we just want that consistency,” Smart said. “Just like for us, we get emotional, too. But, for us, we get in trouble for it. And we just want that consistency around. And that’s it. So I had that in the past but, like I said, I’m going to let Fred do all my talking around that.”
  • The Celtics appear content to wait to fill their open roster spot, Robb writes in a mailbag column. He points out that the team saves thousands of dollars in luxury tax payments every day that the slot remains open and that whoever is ultimately signed shouldn’t be a factor in the postseason. Robb expects the front office to move slowly and see if any emergency needs arise.

Celtics Notes: G. Williams, Brown, Pritchard, Davison

Celtics forward Grant Williams has been playing through a ligament strain in his right (shooting) elbow that has been exacerbated by muscle inflammation in the surrounding area, league sources tell Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Williams has been wearing a sleeve on his elbow since February 12, Weiss writes, which is around the time he sustained the injury.

According to Weiss, Williams was unable to lift heavy weights for a few weeks, though he was able to resume that activity prior to aggravating the injury in practice over the weekend. The former first-round pick has been dealing with pain when he turns or grabs with his right hand, sources tell Weiss.

Williams’ injury may be one reason why he’s been in a shooting slump, as he posted a .333/.325/.737 shooting line in February, far below his season-long splits of .455/.404/.804. As Weiss notes, his playing time has been cut back as well, with trade deadline addition Mike Muscala and second-year forward Sam Hauser both competing with Williams for minutes.

However, Weiss says Williams didn’t blame the elbow injury for missing both free throws in a tie game at the end of regulation on Monday in Cleveland, when one make would have sealed the win. Boston eventually lost in overtime.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Williams hasn’t always been known for his shooting ability. In an interesting article for The Athletic, Weiss writes that assistant coach Ben Sullivan, who previously worked with Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, helped instill confidence in Williams, something he admits he’s struggled with since he’s been dealing with the injury because he doesn’t think of himself as a natural shooter. Williams provides more insight on the injury and says he’s been receiving cortisone treatments, which have helped with the elbow discomfort. “Shot’s feeling good, medicine helps, so it’s just a matter of continuing to be confident and continuing to shoot the way I am,” Williams said, per Weiss. “From now on, it’s a matter of letting it go, let the shot fly, and think about everything after.”
  • Star wing Jaylen Brown says he’s grown weary of dealing with the mask he’s been wearing after suffering a facial fracture last month. I’m kind of tired of the mask, to be honest,” he said (Twitter link via Weiss). “I know it looks cool. But sometimes it’s hard to breathe. It kind of limits your vision at times depending on the lighting and depth perception. But y’all don’t want to hear none of that, that’s something like excuses.”
  • Head coach Joe Mazzulla says reserve guard Payton Pritchard could miss the team’s upcoming six-game road trip, which ends March 21 in Sacramento, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Pritchard sustained a left heel injury at the end of regulation in Monday’s game when he missed a contested driving layup. Rookie guard JD Davison, who is on a two-way contract, may stay with the Celtics to provide depth, Washburn adds.
  • In case you missed it, the Celtics still have an opening on their standard roster, and they’re also involved in an intriguing second-round subplot that depends on where Houston finishes in the standings.

Celtics Notes: Hauser, Buyout Market, Pritchard, Brown

The Celtics‘ confidence in Sam Hauser was rewarded Sunday when he poured in 20 points while making his third career start, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Boston could have sought a replacement for Hauser or moved him out of town before the trade deadline, but the organization opted to stick with the second-year forward despite a prolonged shooting slump.

Injuries to other rotation members have given Hauser expanded playing time lately, and he’s capitalizing on the opportunity. Over the past three games, he is shooting 57% from three-point range and averaging 15.3 PPG.

“I know I’m starting because guys are out,” Hauser said. “I get that. But it definitely — it’s definitely really cool for me, personally. You dream of stuff like this when you grow up, being on an NBA team, starting on an NBA team, let alone and it’s kind of happening right now, which is kind of cool. So, personally, it’s pretty cool. Definitely, I’m seeing a little more minutes right now, which is great, too, for confidence-boosting. And some shots are going through and overall just feeling great.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Boston missed out on two potential buyout additions over the weekend when Danny Green agreed to sign with Cleveland and Terrence Ross committed to Phoenix, Robb notes in a separate story. The Celtics were rumored to have interest in both players, and team president Brad Stevens said a decision on an open roster spot will be made soon. “You’ll look at it and you will decide, okay, is there somebody that fits that need and who’s really excited to be here if that’s the case,” Stevens said. “Or is it do you feel like you’ve got that all filled and maybe invest in a younger player. And so we’re going to assess all that over the next few days and try to figure it out.”
  • Coach Joe Mazzulla isn’t upset about comments from reserve guard Payton Pritchard, who said he had hoped to be traded so he could get more playing time, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Mazzulla sees Pritchard’s frustration as a sign of competitiveness. “I’m happy Payton is expressing himself and the honesty that he speaks with,” he said. “I think it’s important to talk about that stuff because at the end of the day, I trust him completely and regardless of his circumstances, he’s always ready to play.”
  • Jaylen Brown is out of action with a facial fracture he suffered on Wednesday, but he hasn’t given up hope of playing in the All-Star Game, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Brown said doctors have determined that he won’t need surgery, and he’ll be wearing a mask whenever he returns.

Atlantic Notes: Pritchard, D. Green, Ross, Harden, Raptors

Payton Pritchard was a little surprised and disappointed to still be with the Celtics when the trade deadline passed Thursday afternoon, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The third-year guard has proven he can contribute when he gets the opportunity, but he’s only averaging 12.6 minutes per game this season, the lowest figure of his career.

“I definitely was expecting and hoping (for a trade),” Pritchard said. “But you know, I (have to) look at the good things. We’re the best team in the NBA right now and we have a great team with really great players, so for me it’s an opportunity to learn and to keep growing.”

The Celtics were open to trading Pritchard and reportedly explored the market to see what they could get in return for him and Danilo Gallinari. One report said Pritchard was part of Boston’s offer to the Spurs for Jakob Poeltl, but San Antonio opted to send Poeltl to the Raptors.

Pritchard, a four-year college player, is already 25 and is hoping to find a situation soon that offers consistent playing time. The Celtics already picked up his option for next season, so there’s little he can do about his situation until the summer of 2024.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Danny Green and Terrence Ross are probably the most realistic targets for the Celtics in the buyout market, Brian Robb of MassLive states in a mailbag column. He points out that the $3.2MM disabled player exception that Boston received for Gallinari puts the team in position to outbid most competitors.
  • James Harden played his first game in Brooklyn tonight since being traded to the Sixers at last year’s deadline. Harden offered his thoughts about what went wrong for the Nets‘ Big Three and said he was glad to get out when he did, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. “I don’t look like the crazy one,” Harden said. “I don’t look like the guy or the quitter or whatever the media want to call me. I knew what was going on and I just decided to … hey, I’m not built for this. I don’t want to deal with that. I want to play basketball and have fun.”
  • The Raptors had to renounce their rights to six former players to complete the Poeltl trade, tweets Spotrac contributor Keith Smith. They are Isaac Bonga, Jeremy Lin, Jodie Meeks, Lucas Nogueira, Jason Thompson, and longtime restricted free agent Nando De Colo.

Eastern Notes: Thybulle, D. Robinson, Lowry, Celtics, Hart, Pistons

Sixers center Joel Embiid knows that teammate Matisse Thybulle has been mentioned in trade rumors leading up to Thursday’s deadline, but the All-Star big man praised Thybulle’s defensive abilities and said he’d like to see the team hang onto the fourth-year wing, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Personally, I would love to have him,” Embiid said. “I think he’s one of our better defenders, especially on the perimeter. We don’t have a lot of guys that cause steals or blocks, and all that stuff, extra possessions. That takes extra possessions from the other teams. He’s someone that fits on every NBA team based on his defensive skill set. I think he helps us a lot. But then again, I don’t make the decisions.”

There are a handful of reasons why Thybulle has been mentioned as a trade candidate. His offensive limitations have been exposed in past postseasons, he’s headed for free agency this summer, and the Sixers are only slightly above the luxury tax line, so moving off a small amount of salary could save them a significant amount of cash at season’s end.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • The Heat have explored trading forward Duncan Robinson, but Robinson’s pricey long-term contract and uncertainty about his status following finger surgery have decimated any value he might have, per Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. According to Jackson and Chiang, potential trade partners have sought multiple first-round picks in talks involving Robinson, so the Heat are more focused on discussions centered around Kyle Lowry, with the Clippers still in the mix.
  • The Celtics‘ trade offer for Jakob Poeltl consisted of guard Payton Pritchard, injured forward Danilo Gallinari, and multiple future second-round picks, reports Brian Robb of While that proposal would’ve given the Spurs a promising young player in Pritchard, it fell well short of what Toronto was offering in terms of draft compensation.
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic explores how Josh Hart will fit in with the Knicks and explains why New York wanted him, noting that he’s a classic Tom Thibodeau sort of player. Katz also notes that the protection terms on the team’s traded 2023 first-round pick (it will turn into four second-rounders if it lands in the lottery) will allow the Knicks to remain flexible with all of their future first-rounders this offseason and beyond.
  • The Pistons have reportedly set a high asking price for veterans Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks, who are both under contract for next season, and head coach Dwane Casey understands why the front office has taken that stance, as Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscriber link) relays. “(Burks) and (Bogdanovic) are the perfect fit for our rebuilding program, and we’re ready to take off and go forward next year,” Casey said. “Those two guys are just important pieces now and also going forward.”

Celtics Rumors: Pritchard, Gallinari, Poeltl, Bamba

The Celtics have been exploring the possibility of pairing Payton Pritchard and Danilo Gallinari in an outgoing trade package as they seek frontcourt reinforcements, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Pritchard and Gallinari are earning a total of approximately $8.72MM this season, so if the Celtics traded them together, they could take back a player earning up to nearly $11MM (125% of the outgoing salary, plus $100K).

As Fischer observes, the group of players earning less than $11MM includes centers like Jakob Poeltl of the Spurs and Mohamed Bamba of the Magic, though I suspect Boston would need to include at least one more sweetener to land Poeltl and may be hesitant to part with Pritchard in a deal for Bamba.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Pritchard spoke to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe about his role in Boston, expressing conflicted feelings about having the opportunity to play for a legitimate title contender while not seeing the court as much as he’d like. The third-year guard said the team’s success doesn’t “necessarily” make it easier to accept his limited minutes. I’m a competitor and I want to play,” Pritchard said. “I’d play this game for no money if that’s what it means, because I love it. So the biggest thing for me is being somewhere I’ll play and really contribute to winning.”
  • Speaking to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Gallinari addressed his ongoing ACL recovery process and said he’s prepared for the possibility of being on the move at the trade deadline. “(The front office and I) haven’t talked about the trade situation,” Gallinari said. “But I’m 34 years old, I’ve been in the league 15 years. Whatever happens, happens. It’s out of my control, and I’m focused in on my job.”
  • Jay King of The Athletic evaluates several hypothetical trade proposals submitted by fans, considering whether any of them are realistic. King’s favorite of the bunch is a theoretical deal that would send Pritchard and a second-round pick to Utah for Jarred Vanderbilt.