The Portland Trail Blazers reportedly are expected to move Jrue Holiday at some point after acquiring the veteran point guard as part of the blockbuster trade that sent superstar guard Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this week.
The Blazers are rebuilding, and as a top-tier perimeter defender with championship experience, Holiday has plenty of value and should be able to fetch Portland multiple assets for its ongoing rebuild.
The Boston Celtics are reportedly expected to explore the possibility of acquiring Holiday from the Blazers. It wouldn't be an easy deal for the C's to complete, though, because they don't have a ton of salaries to use to match Holiday's $37.3 million salary for next season.
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One role player the Celtics could potentially include as part of a Holiday deal is Payton Pritchard. In fact, the Blazers have Pritchard "on their radar" if they were to engage the Celtics on a potential Holiday trade, per Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer.
“With (Malcolm) Brogdon to match Holiday’s salary, yeah, Payton Pritchard is going out the door in that scenario,” Fischer said on the “Yahoo Sports NBA: Ball Don’t Lie” podcast. “Payton Pritchard is definitely someone on Portland’s radar. He played college basketball at Oregon. Clearly, that would be a match made in heaven. But there’s no way to really get the salaries to match if you’re not including Robert Williams or Al Horford. It just kind of gets thorny.”
This makes sense for a few reasons. Pritchard has shown on several occasions that he can be a solid backup point guard on a good team. He has shot 40 percent from 3-point range and 89 percent from the free throw line in his three-year career. Pritchard is not an amazing defender by any means, but he plays with tenacity and effort. He also crashes the boards well for a guard.
Another factor is Pritchard's ties to the Northwest, as Fischer noted above. He starred at the University of Oregon and was born in the state. So he'd be going closer to home near friends and family.
Pritchard has value to the Celtics, and if he's on the roster to start the 2023-24 season, head coach Joe Mazzulla would be wise to give the 25-year-old guard a larger role. And with Marcus Smart gone, there should be more minutes for Pritchard to provide a spark off the bench.
But if there's a real opportunity to acquire a two-way guard of Holiday's caliber, the Celtics have to seriously explore that. Adding Holiday would give the Celtics more toughness, elite perimeter defense and consistent scoring at point guard.