Payton Pritchard seemed like a prime candidate to be moved at the NBA trade deadline. The Boston Celtics guard was the subject of trade rumors while the C's searched for frontcourt help, and he seemed open to the idea of a fresh start with a new team.
Prior to Thursday's deadline, Pritchard opened up about his desire for more playing time. The 25-year-old currently is stuck behind Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Derrick White on the depth chart and that likely will also be the case next season with all three guards under contract.
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The Celtics reportedly explored a package deal involving Pritchard and veteran sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari, but they ultimately decided to stand pat. C's president of basketball operations Brad Stevens explained why he held on to Pritchard despite his comments about wanting a bigger role.
"We really value Payton" Stevens told our Brian Scalabrine ahead of Friday's game vs. Charlotte. "Like, Payton's a big, important part of our team. Last year he played tons of minutes in the playoff run and guys like that aren't everywhere. We're just in a unique position and Payton knows that. And Payton's been really upfront about that. He knows that the guards we have on our team and the wings that we play sometimes as points are really, really good. And so, there's going to be nights like tonight where guys are out that he's going to get extended opportunity. There's going to be nights where he doesn't.
"But the one thing we all know is he can go in a playoff game and change it. So when you're a young player, it's tough because you want to prove yourself and prove you belong. He's done that. Everybody in the league knows he can play. We really know he can play. He's not in an easy situation, especially when you're 25, but he's really appreciated here.
"I think guys like Blake (Griffin), guys that have been there in those moments and also now have a role that's not what it once was, they can help people navigate it. Payton's not upset because he's not playing, he's upset because he loves to play and he's not playing. That's what I like about him."
Pritchard is averaging a career-low 12.4 minutes per game this season. Despite the inconsistent playing time, he often provides a spark off the bench with his outside shooting and rebounding ability.
With Smart still out due to an ankle sprain, Pritchard should continue to see a slight uptick in minutes heading into the All-Star break. Just like last season, he'll be a valuable piece for Boston down the stretch as it looks to make another deep playoff run.