Celtics Acquire Former Lottery Pick in Latest Trade Proposal

Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics

Getty Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics

Since the new NBA season began, there has been a ton of rhetoric surrounding the Boston Celtics potentially acquiring a veteran center via the free agency market.

However, Sports Illustrated’s Ben Sigel believes that there is better value for Boston in the trade market, most notable in a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans for 2019 lottery pick, Jaxson Hayes.

The trade proposal looks like this

Pelicans Get: Payton Pritchard and a 2023 second-round draft pick via the Portland Trail Blazers

Celtics Get: Jaxson Hayes

“The point is that the Pelicans can get away with moving Jaxson Hayes this season, that way he does not sign an offer sheet with another team in the offseason and leave New Orleans with the Pelicans getting nothing in return.

The Pelicans could use some added shooting depth on their bench and even though they may not utilize him much, Payton Pritchard is not a bad player for them to have. He could sit behind the likes of CJ McCollum and Jose Alvarado on the depth chart in order to work on his game a little more and we have seen glimpses of Pritchard’s shooting potential in Boston,” Siegel reasoned in his October 31 article.

Last season, Hayes participated in 70 NBA games for the Pelicans, starting 28 of them, and averaging 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game while shooting 35.1% from deep and 66% from two-point range. 

Hayes Contract Situation Could be Off-Putting

Hayes is in the final year of his rookie-scale contract and will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, allowing him to discuss terms with other teams around the league, but still giving the Pelicans (or whoever acquires him via trade) the opportunity to match any offer sheet.

The Celtics may want to avoid having to match potential offers for Hayes, as next summer the franchise will already be dealing with Grant Williams entering restricted free agency and Al Horford becoming an unrestricted free agent. As such, Brad Stevens may look to avoid multiple concurrent contract negotiations so that he can ensure his focus is both on retaining the team’s current talent and upgrading any potential areas of need.

Still, Hayes would provide Boston with a reliable athletic presence off the bench, who could help cover for Robert Williams when he’s out of the lineup for whatever reason.

Celtics Activate Pritchard’s Player Option

On October 29, the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported that the Celtics had opted to pick up the one-year team option on Payton Pritchard’s rookie contract, ensuring he remains with the team throughout the 2023-24 NBA season.

“According to a league source, the Celtics have picked up Payton Pritchard’s 2023-24 team option,” Himmeslbach tweeted.

However, by adding an additional year to Pritchard’s current deal, the Celtics could simply be making moves to entice potential trade partners closer to the February trade deadline. After all, Pritchard has suddenly found himself slipping down Boston’s depth chart due to the addition of Malcolm Brogdon. 

As such, Pritchard has struggled for consistent playing time to begin the season and the team may feel that it’s in the interest of both parties for Pritchard to be used as part of a trade, in the hope that he can carve out a role on a new team while the Celtics solve one of their bigger areas of need.

Of course, Boston may see Pritchard as the ideal fourth-string point guard, which means they could keep him around for the remainder of his current contract. We’ll know more once we approach the trade deadline.

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