Joe Mazzulla sends strong message on Payton Pritchard after keying Boston Celtics blowout against Charlotte Hornets

Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics
Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

Joe Mazzulla ogled over Payton Pritchard after the point guard led the Boston Celtics' stay-ready squad to a 131-98 blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets at the TD Garden on April 13 in the team's second-to-last regular season game of the 2023-24 regular season.

Pritchard amassed 31 points, 11 assists, and three rebounds on Friday night and, in turn, was given the "complete player" label from Mazzulla.

“(He’s) being a complete player from the standpoint of every game is gonna be different,” Joe Mazzulla told reporters Friday night, per NBC Sports Boston (h/t NESN). “He affects the game in many different ways. Obviously, having a consistent role for an entire season is really beneficial. This is the first time he’s had that when you know exactly where and when he’s playing and what the potential is.

"Every night could be different. It could be shooting. It could be ball-handling. It could be defense. It could be rebounding. He really takes pride in game management. End of quarters and start of quarters. Scanning the floor. It’s been really good to watch him play.”

Payton Pritchard could find himself in bigger role down the line for Boston Celtics

Pritchard, who's in the first year of a four-year pact with the Celtics worth just $32 million -- the term "just" being used simply because in this NBA climate, his deal is a total steal -- could solve a lot of Boston's cap problems in 2025 when Derrick White's potential extension risks crippling the front office's flexibility to improve the roster.

After Jrue Holiday's four-year, $135 million extension, a White departure feels more likely than previously. With two Supermax deals on the books (Jaylen Brown and soon Jayson Tatum), there was always going to be uncomfortable questions about whether or not the team could afford both Holiday and White.

Pritchard could bring a lot of clarity to the conversation if he continues to play at the level he's operating at.