Payton Pritchard has a new team. The Boston Celtics’ reserve guard was selected for the USA Select Team in July. He will scrimmage against Team USA to prepare Team USA for the FIBA World Cup later this summer.
As for Pritchard’s NBA team, he remains with the Celtics, even though he expressed a desire to be traded before the NBA trade deadline back in February. Instead, Marcus Smart was exchanged for Kristaps Porzingis after an attempt to trade Malcolm Brogdon fell through.
Funny how the Celtics shopped a pair of point guards this off-season but are yet to move the one that wants out of Boston. Pritchard was frustrated with his lack of playing time last season, as Smart, Brogdon, and Derrick White buried Pritchard on the depth chart.
With Smart gone, Pritchard’s chances for more playing time have gone up. The Celtics compliment Pritchard and say he is in the team’s plans. But it’s hard to believe those words based on the Celtics’ actions.
Payton Pritchard doesn’t seem to fit in the Boston Celtics’ plans
Pritchard did nothing wrong to be demoted. He’s just not what the head coach wants. Former Celtics coach Ime Udoka likes bigger point guards that have the ability to switch on defense. Joe Mazzulla was on Udoka’s staff and apparently shares Udoka’s preference.
Mazzulla’s point guard rotation last year was a no-brainer. But it also indicated that the 6-1 Pritchard lacked the desired measurables. That showed during the Eastern Conference Finals when Mazzulla played Pritchard. To counter, the Miami Heat used Jimmy Butler to go after Pritchard as the defense’s weakest link.
The Boston Celtics also have point guards up the wazoo. If J.D. Davison made a leap in his second appearance in the Summer League this past June, he could have challenged Pritchard for his spot in the PG hierarchy. Davison is a superior athlete that stands almost six-foot-three in shoes with a 6-6.5 wingspan. If Davison’s shooting and ball security caught up to his physical talents, he would push Pritchard back down the bench.
Davison won’t be a threat while playing for the Maine Celtics, but there is another prospect marinating overseas. Yam Madar was just voted the EuroLeague Rising Star Award winner. The award goes to the best player under 22 years old. Previous winners include Ricky Rubio and Luka Doncic, which bodes well for Madar’s potential.
Will the Celtics finally bring Madar states side? That’s unknown. But the six-foot-three guard plays with high energy and aggressively on defense. Boston could leave Madar with his Turkish Basketball League team or put Madar on a plane to develop within the Celtics organization.
It’s more likely that the former happens, as the Boston Celtics already acquired point guard depth. The Celtics signed free agent Dalano Banton this off-season. He’s an enticing player with the versatility to play up to three positions. In two Summer League games played, Banton showed some intriguing abilities worth taking a chance on.
We know Pritchard can ball, proven by his 30-point triple-double in the regular season finale. But his value is low, making it hard for Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens to find a desirable return for the rarely used Pritchard.
It’s a move that’s expected. Pritchard’s name is thrown around in trade rumors. Sports Illustrated’s Inside the Thunder just proposed a mock trade to the Oklahoma Thunder. Hardwood Houdini’s Sam LaFrance isn’t a fan of the proposed trade, though.
Ideally, Stevens can get some of the depth he desires in exchange for Pritchard. It may require packaging Pritchard with some of the draft capital Stevens has amassed recently. It might not be the deal Stevens wants, but it’s better than keeping a frustrated Pritchard on the bench to start the season.