Celtics

Payton Pritchard could play in Summer League final, but decision isn’t official yet

Pritchard left the team for a pre-arranged family event last week.

Payton Pritchard Summer League
Payton Pritchard of the Boston Celtics is guarded by Semaj Christon and Josh Gray of the Denver Nuggets during the 2021 NBA Summer League. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Celtics guard Payton Pritchard was one of the best players at the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League before he departed for a pre-planned family event last week, and as the Celtics gear up for a showdown against the Kings in the Summer League finals, Pritchard wants to play again.

The Celtics, however, aren’t sure whether Pritchard will play.

“He wasn’t at practice today,” Celtics Summer League coach Joe Mazzulla said. “I know everyone saw what he tweeted and we’re in discussions about whether it makes sense for him to come back. We’re still communicating and working through that. As a coach obviously you want him there. I think we’ll know more in the morning.”

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For the Celtics, the consideration is two-fold. Pritchard looked like a potential starter — or at very least a high-level contributor off the bench — in his three Summer League games. That performance built off a successful rookie season in which he showed deep 3-point range and a steady presence. Risking injury for a meaningless Summer League game seems unnecessary.

On the other hand, Pritchard — who scored 92 and 56 points in consecutive games at a Portland pro-am during his hiatus from the team — isn’t likely to stay off the court even if he is held out. The Summer League Celtics also would like to finish what they started.

“It’s more like a culmination of what we’ve done since training camp started — a culmination of what each guy’s development plan is,” Mazzulla said. “I told the guys after the game, win or lose, the only thing that matters is if we get better and show our professionalism and compete at a level that gives you the best chance to be successful. I don’t know that you change anything other than continue to harp on developmental aspects, basketball-wise and basketball IQ-wise.”

“We’re just really excited to hopefully take this thing home,” forward Sam Hauser added. “We didn’t come here to lose.”

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The Celtics and Kings tip off at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN.

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