Payton Pritchard

Celtics Exercise 2023/24 Option On Payton Pritchard

The Celtics have picked up their team option on guard Payton Pritchard for the 2023/24 season, a league source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). The move guarantees Pritchard’s fourth-year salary of $4,037,278.

A part of the Celtics’ regular rotation in 2021/22, Pritchard averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.0 APG on .429/.412/1.000 shooting in 71 games (14.1 MPG) during the regular season and appeared in all 24 of the team’s postseason contests.

However, his role has been reduced early on in 2022/23 following the arrival of Malcolm Brogdon. With Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and Brogdon all playing significant backcourt roles, Pritchard has appeared in just two games so far, logging nine total minutes.

Still, it’s likely just a matter of time before Pritchard starts seeing more regular playing time — Boston’s decision to pick up his fourth-year option signals that the team remains confident in his ability to provide value throughout the rest of his rookie scale contract. He’ll now be eligible for a rookie scale extension in 2023 and would be a restricted free agent in 2024 if he doesn’t sign a new deal before then.

As our rookie scale option decision tracker shows, Pritchard’s option was the only one the Celtics had to make a call on before Monday’s deadline.

Celtics Notes: Mazzulla, Brogdon, Vonleh, Pritchard

The circumstances that made Joe Mazzulla a head coach were unusual, but he’s showing that he’s up to the challenge, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Friday’s win at Miami gave the Celtics a 2-0 start to their regular season for the first time since Doc Rivers did it in 2009/10.

Mazzulla became the team’s interim leader after Ime Udoka was suspended for the season following an affair with a staff member. Mazzulla has adapted quickly to the job and has Boston looking like title contenders again, even after losing Robert Williams and Danilo Gallinari with injuries.

“The humility of our team is super important,” Mazzulla said. “We have eight guys that can start games and finish games. We have the ability to get different looks, and it makes us very, very good. Credit to our guys, they want to win. They understand that, and they’re willing to do what it takes. We’re grateful for that.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • The team’s commitment to defense has impressed Malcolm Brogdon, who was acquired from the Pacers in an offseason trade. “I haven’t played on a team like this where one through five, everybody that’s on the floor takes pride in the defensive end. It’s a championship characteristic for sure,” Brogdon said after Friday’s game (video link).
  • Noah Vonleh had to battle for a roster spot, but he’s already making his first start tonight, notes A. Sherrod Blakely of Full Court Press. Al Horford is sitting out the second game of a back-to-back due to load management, so the Celtics turned to Vonleh, who’s enjoying the opportunity with his hometown team. “I just want to go out there, continue to help the team, bring energy,” Vonleh said, “… just keep doing the things that help get me on the floor.”
  • Payton Pritchard wasn’t used in the first two games, but he remains a valuable part of the roster considering Brogdon’s history of injuries and Marcus Smart‘s reckless style, Steve Bulpett of Heavy states in a mailbag column. Pritchard is still on his rookie contract and he has been effective off the bench during his two seasons in Boston, averaging 6.9 points per game and shooting 41.2% from three-point range, so Bulpett doesn’t expect the Celtics to use him as a trade chip.

Eastern Notes: Giannis, Dragic, LaVine, Celtics

Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo did some weight training and is expected to practice on Sunday with Greece, according to EuroHoops. Antetokounmpo recently suffered a minor ankle sprain, but he seems to be proceeding without any issues.

“We decided to do just an optional training session,” Greek national team assistant coach Sotiris Manolopoulos said. “We left it up to the players to come and make some shots. Giannis did his own training at the hotel and tomorrow will practice without any issues. He is healthy.”

Antetokounmpo sustained the injury on Thursday. With the NBA season around the corner, this is good news for Bucks fans, as they’re hoping to see Milwaukee start the season without any interruptions and win a second championship in three years.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference today:

  • Bulls guard Goran Dragic recently came to the defense of Antetokoummpo in light of Gilbert Arenas‘ negative comments, EuroHoops relays. “Giannis is the MVP. Gilbert Arenas is not,” Dragic said as part of a larger quote. “Was he ever the MVP? I don’t think so. So he can’t talk about Giannis. Giannis won the championship, won the MVP award. He has been the defensive player of the year.” Arenas previously stated that Antetokounmpo “doesn’t understand basketball yet” and downplayed the Bucks star’s 2021 championship.
  • Zach LaVine‘s lucrative new contract will created added pressure on the Bulls star this season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. LaVine signed a five-year, $215MM deal with the team in July, cementing his future in Chicago. He averaged 24.4 points per game last season, shooting 48% from the floor and 39% from three-point range. The Bulls will be looking to contend once again this season.
  • Steve Bulpett of examines a number of Celtics topics in his latest mailbag. Among the subjects Bulpett discusses is whether Payton Pritchard should play more. With Boston adding Malcolm Brogdon this offseason, Pritchard’s role is arguably more unclear, but he remains an effective option off the bench.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Anunoby, Flynn, Sixers, Celtics

Appearing on CNBC on Monday (video link), financial analyst Jonathan Boyar said that there’s a belief Knicks owner James Dolan will explore selling his sports franchises after Madison Square Garden Entertainment finishes building the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas. The new Vegas venue is scheduled to open in 2023.

However, an MSG executive responded to that report with a quick and succinct denial, according to Knicks reporter Tommy Beer (Twitter link).

We have no plans to sell either of the teams,” the executive said of the Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

  • OG Anunoby and Malachi Flynn are among the Raptors facing the most pressure in 2022/23, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. As Koreen outlines, if Anunoby can stay healthy and continues to develop on offense, he could become an All-Star caliber player, but he still has to stay on the court and show he deserves that bigger role. Flynn, meanwhile, is entering the third year of his rookie contract and may not be part of Toronto’s future plans if he doesn’t establish himself as a reliable backup this season.
  • Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer examines some lingering offseason questions facing the Sixers, including whether the team will get seriously involved in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes and how the NBA’s investigation into the team’s free agency moves might play out.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic takes a look at whether or not there will be regular minutes available in the Celtics‘ rotation for Payton Pritchard and/or Sam Hauser following the team’s offseason acquisition of Malcolm Brogdon. While Weiss believes both players are capable of contributing in Boston, he suggests they’ll have to earn their playing time.

Draft Rumors: Banchero, Possible Trades, Sharpe, Sixers, Wolves

A major swing occurred overnight in sportsbooks across the country, according to Matt Moore of Action Network, who tweets that every book with odds available for the No. 1 overall pick now lists Duke’s Paolo Banchero as the favorite to come off the board first.

It’s a fascinating turn of events with the draft just hours away, though it’s hard to ascertain what exactly it means. Do those oddsmakers know something about the Magic‘s plans that the general public doesn’t? Did some bettors swing the odds by placing significant wagers on Banchero, either because they have inside info or because they want to create more favorable odds for subsequent bets on Jabari Smith? Could a trade involving the top pick be in the works?

Most NBA reporters and draft experts have stated for weeks that it would be a surprise for anyone besides Smith to go to Orlando at No. 1. However, he’s far from the lock that recent first overall picks like Cade Cunningham and Zion Williamson have been. This 11th-hour swing in betting odds only adds more intrigue to the top of tonight’s draft.

Here’s more on the 2022 NBA draft:

  • The Pacers, Jazz, Celtics, and Pistons are among the teams believed to be looking into acquiring a pick in the back half of the first round, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Boston seems open to discussing young rotation players like Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard in those talks, Fischer adds.
  • The latest round-up of draft-related intel from Jeremy Woo of includes notes on Shaedon Sharpe, who continues to be linked to the Trail Blazers at No. 7; the Sixers‘ No. 23 pick, which rival teams believe will be dealt; and the list of teams thought to have interest in acquiring a second-round pick, which includes the Lakers, Jazz, Mavericks, Suns, Nets, and Heat.
  • Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said on Wednesday his team is “super open” to trading the No. 19 overall pick, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). We’ve had countless conversations about using that pick to add a more quickly impactful piece,” Connelly said. “But 99% of these conversations are just theoretical.”

Celtics Notes: R. Williams, Smart, Pritchard, Offseason

Celtics center Robert Williams endured a painful stretch of playoff basketball after returning from meniscus surgery that sidelined him for the end of the regular season, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Williams expects the pain in his left knee to fade away during the offseason, but he said the sting of losing the NBA Finals will be harder to recover from.

“It don’t stop hurting,” he said about falling short of a title. “Honestly, it never stops hurting until we’re back in this position again. Starting with the beginning of the season. Just got to be better, man. Got to be better. Everyone got to take a step up, add a little intensity to everything we’re doing. But it never stops hurting.”

Williams became a full-time starter during his fourth NBA season and posted career-best numbers with 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. The extension he signed last summer will keep him in Boston through 2026 and provide him with a few more chances to chase a title with the Celtics.

Coach Ime Udoka wants to see Williams get stronger heading into 2022/23 to protect himself against further injuries.

“A big part is taking care of your body and staying available,” Udoka said. “Obviously, had to strengthen up his legs, build all the muscle around it to protect his knees. But what I did tell him also was credit for playing through what he did and giving it a go, being out there for us. Now it’s time to rest up, heal up, be ready for next season and come back in better shape, better than you were this year coming into the season.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Even though the season ended in disappointment, players expressed confidence that the team is moving in the right direction after a strong second half surge, per Souichi Terada of MassLive. Marcus Smart reflected on Boston’s ability to turn things around after an 18-21 start. “This is probably our worst series (in the Finals),” he said. “It’s part of it. It happens. It is what it is. But we’re young. Things we went through to get here showed us what we have to come for us in the future. I think that’s why we’re confident about the future.”
  • The Celtics’ moves at the trade deadline created an opportunity for Payton Pritchard, Justin Quinn writes for Yahoo Sports. The second-year shooting guard hopes to carry the experience into next season. “This season’s probably been one of my biggest growths mentally,” Pritchard said. “Starting off the season, it was a different situation. I wasn’t playing at all for like the first 60 games, in and out and then the trade deadline happened and then I got an opportunity to play.”
  • In an offseason preview, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype looks at players the Celtics might target with their mid-level exception and their trade exceptions.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Achiuwa, Pritchard, Quickley

James Harden was brilliant in his Sixers debut Friday night, but he couldn’t escape questions about whether his reputation has suffered after issuing trade demands to two teams in 13 months, writes Brian Hall of The Associated Press. The former MVP put up a near triple-double with 27 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in a win at Minnesota, but the postgame conversation centered around the circumstances that led to his departure from Brooklyn.

“Just because the current situation happened, whatever happened, happened,” Harden said. “It doesn’t mean that I’m a bad teammate. Me, personally, I feel like I needed to do what’s best for my career, and help myself and be happy. It doesn’t harp on whether I’m a bad teammate or not.”

Sixers players and coaches are extremely happy to have Harden on board. Doc Rivers raved about how Harden has raised the level of communication since arriving, and Joel Embiid noticed an immediate difference in the quality of shots that he’s getting.

“I’ve never been wide open like this in my life,” Embiid said. “Seriously, the passing, like I wasn’t even expecting it and it was just coming.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Although the Raptors were blown out Saturday for the second straight night, Precious Achiuwa continues to be impressive, notes Michael Grange of The 22-year-old big man, who was acquired from the Heat in the Kyle Lowry trade, put up 21 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench. He could be on the way to replacing Khem Birch in the starting lineup, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports.
  • The Celtics‘ decision to keep Payton Pritchard at the trade deadline is paying off, says Trevor Hass of The second-year guard played an important role in Saturday’s win at Detroit, delivering 19 points and six assists in 27 minutes, the most he has logged in two months. “My confidence never should waver,” Pritchard said. “For me, it’s just staying ready and trying to find little ways to help this team win. That’s my job, so I’m going to keep doing it.”
  • The slumping Knicks could use a boost from Immanuel Quickley, who is mired in a long shooting slump, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Quickley, who’s expected to become a primary ball-handler off the bench with Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker both unavailable, is shooting 30.7% from the field and 26.6% from three-point range in his last 19 games. “Teammates tell me all the time, sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t, but you just gotta keep the main thing, which is playing defense every night, playing hard every night and just bringing other things to the table,” Quickley said. “You can do other things good when you don’t shoot well. You can still bring other things to win.” 

Atlantic Notes: White, Theis, Durant, Claxton, Knicks

The Celtics’ flurry of action prior to the trade deadline has left them with a handful of open roster spots. They’ll fill them by signing free agents to 10-day deals in the short term, then explore the buyout market as players become available, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reports.

The trades that they made were done to improve the second unit, Himmelsbach adds. They view Derrick White as an upgrade in a sixth-man role, while Daniel Theis has already shown during his previous stint with the Celtics that he can mesh with this group. That deal with Houston for Theis came together at the last minute, Himmelsbach tweets.

The trades will also open up playing time for Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • How does Kevin Durant feel about the James Harden trade? In a TNT interview (hat tip to the Washington Post’s Ben Golliver), the Nets superstar said, “I’m excited for our team and looking forward to finishing the season out with this new group … The playoffs are right around the corner and we’ve got to fast track and get used to each other. I think everybody got what they wanted.”
  • The Nets explored trades involving Nic Claxton, Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News tweets. Andre Drummond was added in the Harden deal and LaMarcus Aldridge is expected to return in the near future from an ankle sprain. Those developments will presumably eat into Claxton’s playing time.
  • The Knicks, who didn’t pull off a trade on Thursday, still want to compete for a play-in spot, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. They still believe they made an upgrade in adding Cam Reddish last month, even though coach Tom Thibodeau has played the young wing sparingly, and they’re expected to get Derrick Rose back in action from ankle surgery later this month.

Celtics Rumors: Trade Deadline, Schröder, Stevens

The Celtics‘ recent hot streak appears to have shifted the team’s perspective heading into the trade deadline, according to Chris Mannix of, who hears from sources that Boston has gone from being a possible seller to a potential buyer.

Celtics head coach Ime Udoka likes what he has seen from his team lately and doesn’t sound particularly eager to break up the current group, but he acknowledged that Boston’s eight wins in its last nine games, including six victories in a row, may change the deadline equation for the front office — especially since the Celtics’ strong recent play may boost the trade value of some of their players.

“We’re happy with how we’re playing, happy with what the guys are doing and seeing our full group together now,” Udoka said, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.“I’m sure it changed some of the [trade] conversation based on what we’re doing lately.”

Here are a few more Celtics-related notes and rumors:

  • According to Mannix, Boston continues to shop Dennis Schröder in trade talks, but teams that have talked to the Celtics say they’re asking for a player and draft capital in any deal involving the guard. The C’s seem unlikely to part with Schröder unless they get a rotation player in return, says Mannix, adding that the Bucks, Cavaliers, and Mavericks remain in the mix. We wrote on Tuesday about what a Milwaukee or Cleveland deal for Schröder might look like.
  • Steve Bulpett of has also heard that the Celtics want something of value back for Schröder and aren’t just looking for a deal that gets them under the luxury tax line. “He’s been playing well, and he’s been a good part of what they’re doing lately,” one league exec said to Bulpett. “I still think they might prefer to move him, but now they’re looking for an asset in return. They don’t feel like they HAVE to trade him now, and they’d like to turn him into an asset for next year.”
  • Some people in the organization would like to keep Schröder for depth purposes, while others would be comfortable using Josh Richardson and Payton Pritchard to replace his minutes, says Bulpett. According to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link), Boston also expects veteran point guards to be available on the buyout market, which could be an option if the team trades Schröder without receiving a point guard in return.
  • Rival teams seem to enjoy talking trades with new Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens more than they did with Danny Ainge, Smith adds (via Twitter). It’s less like you’re giving up rights to your first-born,” one opposing executive said. Another said Ainge had a tendency to try to “get blood from a stone and squeeze for ‘one more thing.'”

Celtics Heavily Involved In Trade Discussions

The Celtics have been extremely active in trade talks with the aim of improving the pieces around stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, longtime beat writer Steve Bulpett reports in a story.

President of basketball operations Brad Stevens is looking to at least improve the team’s salary cap sheet and free up more playing time for young players such as Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith and Romeo Langford.

The Celtics already made one move this month to improve their salary cap situation and reduce their chances of paying the luxury tax, dealing Juancho Hernangomez and his $7MM salary to San Antonio in a three-team trade.

Boston has been exploring the trade value of Al Horford, who is making $27MM this season and has a partial guarantee of $14.5MM on his $26.5MM contract next season.

Though Bulpett didn’t specify which other players the Celtics are looking to deal, it stands to reason that Dennis Schröder (a free agent again this summer), Josh Richardson and Marcus Smart would have the types of contracts they’d like to move. Richardson’s contract runs through next season and Smart signed a four-year extension last summer.

Another interesting nugget in Bulpett’s report is that Celtics had targeted big man Alperen Sengun if they had kept their first round pick last year. They wound up dealing it to Oklahoma City, which eventually ended up drafting Sengun and trading him to the Rockets. Boston shed Kemba Walker‘s contract in the trade with the Thunder. Sengun is averaging 8.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 2.6 APG with Houston in 39 appearances.