The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and Payton Pritchard is still a Celtic -- but he wishes it had played out differently.
The third-year sharpshooting guard hasn't been shy about expressing his hope for a fresh start with a team that might afford him more minutes.
But despite surfacing in trade rumors, a deal never materialized ahead of last week's deadline, and following that development, Pritchard was candid about feeling a letdown.
"I definitely was expecting and hoping [for a trade]," Pritchard told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
After averaging 19 minutes per game as a rookie two seasons ago, Pritchard saw his playing time decrease last season and again this season, all the way down to 12 minutes per game. With last year's midseason addition of Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon coming aboard in the offseason, minutes are relatively scarce in the Celtics' back court.
That has left Pritchard the odd man out.
Ahead of the deadline, the Celtics dangled Pritchard and Danilo Gallinari to the Spurs in an offer for center Jakob Poeltl, according to Washburn, but San Antonio went in a different direction, eventually shipping Poeltl back to the Toronto Raptors.
Despite his disappointment, Pritchard is trying to see the silver lining of remaining on a championship-caliber Celtics team.
"But you know, I [have to] look at the good things," Pritchard told Washburn. "We're the best team in the NBA right now, and we have a great team with really good players, so for me it's an opportunity to learn and keep growing."
Entering Saturday's action, the 25-year-old former Oregon standout had averaged 6.4 points in 15.7 minutes per game in his career. After shooting better than 40% from deep in each of his first two seasons, that figure has dipped to 33% in 2022-23.
Last month, Pritchard made it clear he was hoping for a chance to prove himself elsewhere.
During a podcast appearance, the former No. 26 overall draft pick referred to his Celtics tenure in the past tense, saying he would be seeking a bigger role when he's "done here, after this year."
It's not exactly clear what Pritchard meant by that, since the Celtics have already exercised his fourth-year option for 2023-24, but it certainly seems to suggest he will once again be angling for a fresh start.
In any event, Pritchard told Washburn that after his initial disappointment at the trade deadline, he is now locked in and fully on board for the stretch run.
"I refocused my mind-set and I have a great opportunity here. I get to come to work every day and play basketball."