Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and the Boston Celtics entered this postseason with one goal in mind: to win a championship. The Celtics felt like they had unfinished business to take care of in the playoffs after losing in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors one year ago.
But fast forward to the current day, and it's clear the Celtics fell short of their goal. While Boston did rally all of the way back from a 3-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference Finals to force a Game 7, the team laid an egg in Game 7 and lost to the Miami Heat by a final score of 103-84.
Brad Stevens and the Celtics now have a pivotal offseason ahead of them. Will they decide to trade Brown for another star? Will they re-sign restricted free agent Grant Williams? Only time will tell, but there's one player that stands out as someone who the Celtics must move on from in the 2023 NBA offseason, and it's not Brown or Williams. With all of this in mind, let's look at the player who the C's should trade sometime this summer:
1 player Celtics must trade in 2023 NBA offseason
Boston's guard rotation is arguably the deepest in all of basketball. Marcus Smart is a defensive menace, Derrick White is a rock-solid two-way player, and Malcolm Brogdon can score points in bunches, hence why he was named the 2022-23 Sixth Man of the Year.
But these three names monopolized the available minutes at the guard spots for the Celtics this season, which meant that Pritchard was the odd man out in the rotation. In his third season in the pros, Pritchard put up career lows in several statistics, including games played (48), minutes per game (13.4), points (5.6), assists (1.3), and rebounds (1.8).
Pritchard continued to be on the outside looking in on Joe Mazzulla's rotation during the postseason. He played in ten playoff games, but almost all of his minutes came in garbage time when the games were already decided. Pritchard's best postseason performance came in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals when he scored 12 points in as many minutes off of the bench.
To be clear, the reason the Celtics need to trade Pritchard isn't because he had an underwhelming season — after all, it wasn't Pritchard's fault that he was glued to the bench. Rather, they need to trade him because Pritchard is simply too talented of a player to be warming the bench for an NBA team.
A Payton Pritchard trade to the Rockets makes a lot of sense on paper. After all, the Rockets are low on point guards to back up star guard Kevin Porter Jr. Plus, Rockets coach Ime Udoka is very familiar with Pritchard's game, as he coached Pritchard with the Celtics last season. The Celtics would likely get little else other than a second-round pick in return for Pritchard, but that's better than nothing.
Payton Pritchard was a consummate professional with the Celtics this season. He never complained about his lack of playing time and always stayed positive, which is a credit to his character and maturity. As a reward for his professionalism, the Celtics need to trade him to a better situation where he has the opportunity for more playing time and touches. Here's to hoping that Pritchard will be on a different team next year.