For Payton Pritchard, being on the Boston Celtics comes with its pros and cons. The third-year guard gets to play for a perennial NBA title contender, but his role is limited due to the backcourt depth on the roster.
For the first half of last season, Pritchard took a back seat to fellow point guards Marcus Smart and Dennis Schroder. Though his minutes increased following Schroder's departure, he tumbled down the depth chart again with last summer's acquisition of Malcolm Brogdon. He finds himself stuck behind Smart, Brogdon, and Derrick White on the depth chart.
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Pritchard has played in 35 of the Celtics' 51 games so far this season and is averaging a career-low 12.5 minutes. His role -- or lack thereof -- has led to him being mentioned in trade rumors ahead of the Feb. 9 deadline.
He opened up about his situation and his uncertain future in Boston on the Point Forward podcast with Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner. Iguodala began the conversation by asking Pritchard about his next 5-10 years in the league.
“Obviously after I’m done here, after this year, I’d like to look -- be a part of a bigger role a little bit," Pritchard answered. "It’s obviously what I work for. I think that’s what Brad (Stevens) and them know, too. We’ve had that discussion but -- a bigger role. I want to be part of a winning culture but I want to also help that, be a really big piece of that.
"I’m not saying I'm the best player on the team but I don’t know what my future holds unless I can take that next step. I don’t know what it is in five or 10 years but I just want to look back and know that I put my best foot forward. I put all the work in so whatever happens I can live with as long as I did it my way. That’s the most important thing for me.”
Pritchard's comments are understandable given not only his current situation, but also his long-term outlook with the Celtics. The 26th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft has one more year on his rookie contract after this season, though he's unlikely to see his role increase with Smart, Brogdon and White each under contract through 2025.
Despite Pritchard's remarks and the trade rumors around him, it's reportedly unlikely he's moved before the trade deadline. The 25-year-old has been useful as of late with Smart injured and Sam Hauser struggling to provide consistent shooting off the bench. Boston may be best served playing out the season with Pritchard, then reassessing his future with the team next summer.