Milwaukee Bucks Implored to Target Celtics Guard Via Trade

Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Getty Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics observes the playing of the national anthem prior to the game against the Chicago Bulls.

The Boston Celtics are breezing through these early stages of the 2022-23 campaign, as they boast the league’s best record of 18-4 and look as though they haven’t skipped a beat since their NBA Finals run from just the season prior.

Now, while things appear to be going rather well for the club as a whole, for point guard Payton Pritchard year three of his NBA tenure has been filled with underwhelming minute distributions and a bevy of DNPs.

Through no fault of his own, as head coach Joe Mazzulla just simply has three other highly skilled guard options in Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Derrick White ahead on the depth chart, Pritchard has seen his role within the rotation diminish to a career-low (just 11.8 minutes per game) and it is because of this that some believe it may be time for a change of scenery.

While the 24-year-old may not be a star by any stretch of the word, should he be shopped by Brad Stevens and company one can only assume that he’ll attract the attention of many franchises and, according to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, one of them could be the Milwaukee Bucks.

“Now, the Celtics may not want to outfit a direct competitor with a valuable contributor, but if the Bucks put the best offer on the table, that can win over any resistance,” Buckley wrote.

“Pritchard isn’t worth breaking the bank or anything, but Milwaukee could give up a decent asset to get him. The Bucks need more shooting and more backcourt scoring in general, and those areas just happen to be Pritchard’s specialties.”

As things currently stand, the Bucks find themselves ranking a lowly 17th in the association in 3-point shooting with a conversion rate of 34.9% though, ironically, they rank seventh in such attempts per game at 37.3.

With this, it makes sense why Buckley would believe that Pritchard could be an interesting trade option for Milwaukee, considering that he sports a 41.1% conversion rate from long-range and puts up an impressive 20.7 points per 100 possessions for his career.

However, being they are a direct threat to contend for the Eastern Conference crown along with the Celtics this season, it’s hard to believe that Boston would entertain striking any sort of deal with Milwaukee at any point in the near future.

Celtics Could Swap Pritchard for a Big

Though the Bucks may not be a realistic suitor for Pritchard, it’s reasonable to believe that, considering his lack of usage, the Boston Celtics could be open to the idea of trading the guard for more talent at an in-demand position.

In a November 22 article by The Athletic’s John Hollinger, the concept of using the 24-year-old as a trade chip was discussed in depth, with Hollinger suggesting that he could wind up being used to lure in more depth to the team’s frontcourt rotation.

“Boston is going gangbusters but is so deep in the backcourt that Payton Pritchard has been squeezed into a bit role despite performing well in his limited minutes,” Hollinger wrote. “He’s valuable! He’s just less valuable to Boston right now than almost any other team.

“In his case, one out would seem to be as a trade chip to get Boston another big man. The Celtics have thus far survived the absence of Robert Williams III, with the help of some solid contributions from scrap-heap pickup Luke Kornet, but the injuries to Williams and Gallinari exposed what is perhaps the one weakness on a loaded Boston team.”

One popular target many have suggested the Celtics should inquire about is Jakob Poeltl, who currently suits up for a tanking San Antonio Spurs team that could use for some bolstering of their own, though to their backcourt which, on the surface, would seem like a perfect match for the Celtics.

Another possible option that has been floated around has been OKC Thunder frontcourt floor spacer Mike Muscala, who Buckley’s own cohort, Greg Swartz, has linked to Boston in the past.

Analyst Sounds Off on Celtics Sharpshooter

Though Pritchard’s role within Boston’s rotation may be dwindling by the day in 2022-23, second-year forward Sam Hauser finds his stock soaring through 22 games played.

During a November 29 episode of Heavy on Sports’ Postin’ Up with Keith Smith and Adam Taylor podcast, Smith discussed his thoughts on why the 25-year-old is making such a noteworthy impact for the Celtics, and whether his shooting excellence is for real

“Hashtag Hausermatic? Oh, he’s not doing anything he’s not asked to do. And, they’re not asking him to do anything he can’t do,” Smith said about Hauser.

“Get open and shoot…You had a couple of plays off the dribble last night against the Wizards. He made one where he took a dribble off a screen and hit a three, which is really new… So yeah, I think Sam Hauser is good, you know, (his shooting is) definitely for real.”

Seeing 17.6 minutes per game, the former Virginia Cavalier standout and 2021 undrafted free agent finds himself ranking seventh in the league in 3-point percentage (47.9%) while putting up 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds during his sophomore season with the Celtics.

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