Proposed Trade Lands Celtics a Breakout Big Man Behind Al Horford

Nick Richards, Boston Celtics

Getty Nick Richards, Boston Celtics

Heading into the offseason, the Boston Celtics have multiple questions they need to find answers for.

One of those questions is what to do regarding Payton Pritchard’s future with the team, while another is how to find another big man to slowly grow into Al Horford‘s replacement.

Fortunately, it would appear that Sports Illustrated’s Bobby Krivitsky may have an answer to both of those questions, as he recently floated the idea of Nick Richards from the Charlotte Hornets as a potential target in a Payton Pritchard trade.

“If Boston wants a young, athletic center to attempt to mold behind Robert Williams and Al Horford, Nick Richards fits the bill,” Krivitsky wrote. “The seven-foot, 245-pound center is under contract for $5 million each of the next three seasons, with 2025-26 non-guaranteed.”

Richard enjoyed somewhat of a breakout season for the Hornets this year, participating in 65 regular-season games and posting career highs in points (8.2 per game) and rebounds (6.4 per game.) It was those performances that convinced the Hornets to negotiate a contract extension with the former Kentucky Wildcat.

However, given the Hornet’s league-worst offense and the plethora of draft picks at their disposal this year, they could be tempted to move on from Richards in return for a sharpshooting backup guard like Pritchard.

Pritchard Wanted to be Traded in February

During a January 29 appearance on the Point Forward podcast with Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala, Pritchard discussed why he wanted to be traded from the Celtics, noting how he wants a bigger role within a team’s rotation.

“I definitely do,” Pritchard said. “It’s obviously what I work for. I think that’s what Brad 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 it’s 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 played a legitimate role for the Celtics during their run to the 2022 NBA Finals and will likely still have some interest from around the league should the Celtics decide to start testing the waters on a potential trade.

Celtics Could Look to Keep Pritchard Next Season

Recently, Heavy on Sports’ Sean Deveney spoke with an Eastern Conference General Manager under the condition of anonymity. During that conversation, the topic of a potential Pritchard trade became a topic of discussion, with the GM noting how Boston could opt to keep the guard around for another season.

“The way things have worked recently is you find that teams do not want to trade guys on their rookie contracts because you’re going to get more value by trading him after he gets that big contract bump,” The GM said. “So they’re not going to be in a hurry to move him just to move him because they can do better by waiting.”

However, with Pritchard having already been vocal about his desire to play elsewhere, it would be a risk by Brad Stevens to keep an unhappy player on the roster for another year – especially when the Celtics will be looking to contend for a championship again next season.
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