NBA Power Rankings: Suns hold on to top spot, Celtics climb to second


The Phoenix Suns continue to have a firm grip on the top spot in the NBC Sports NBA Power Rankings and it’s tough to see them giving it up this season. But if one red-hot team could take it from them it’s the Celtics, who are now second in these rankings and must be seen as legit title contenders.

Suns small icon 1. Suns (58-14, Last Week No. 1). Phoenix has gone 10-4 without Chris Paul (and Devin Booker missed some games in there as well) and is about to get the Point God back for a final push to lock up the best record in the NBA and home-court throughout the playoffs. The Suns’ magic number to lock up the best record is one — they are nine games better than the team with the second-best record (Grizzlies). It will be interesting to see how voters treat Suns during NBA awards: Chris Paul and Devin Booker both All-NBA? Mikal Bridges on the ballot for Defensive Player of the Year? Cameron Johnson for Most Improved?

Celtics small icon 2. Celtics (45-28, LW 5). Let’s deal with the most important thing first: No, Grant Williams, your nickname cannot be “Batman.” Only Kobe got to pick his own nickname; that’s not how it works. The Celtics have come together since the All-Star break, going 11-2 with a +11.5 net rating, led by the best offense in the NBA over that stretch. Boston has rocketed up the standing so fast that the biggest concern could be getting the No. 2 seed and potentially facing Brooklyn in the first round of the playoffs — but the Celtics are as good a defensive matchup for the Nets as there is (as much as there is a matchup for Kevin Durant). Celtics title talk is not crazy, it’s legitimate.

Grizzlies small icon 3. Grizzlies (49-23, LW 3). Ja Morant will get some bottom-of-the-ballot MVP votes, and he will make All-NBA first or second team, but he is the frontrunner for one award: Most Improved Player. While his counting stats did jump this season — 27.6 points a game, up from 19.1 — and his efficiency rose along with it, what voters know is that the leap from “star” to “superstar/franchise cornerstone” is the hardest one to make, and Morant made it in his third year. With the Warriors Curry-less for much if not all of the remaining regular season, the Grizzlies look locked into the No. 2 seed in the West. They can get some guys some nights off down the stretch (and do things like resting Morant’s knee).

Heat small icon 4. Heat (47-25, LW 2). Miami may have won 6-of-8 and sit atop the Eastern Conference, but Monday’s loss to a shorthanded Philadelphia team was concerning. Miami is a contender, but their inconsistency in halfcourt offense against Philly. Sure, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry combined for 69 points on the night, when the Heat’s floor-spacing shooters went cold — Tyler Herro 10 points, Duncan Robinson 5-of-15 — the offense bogs down quickly. Miami’s halfcourt offense can be predictable (and predictable is defendable). Plus, there are places for opposing offenses to attack the Heat defense. Miami could win the East. Their hard-nosed style and the grit of Butler and Adebayo should thrive in the postseason, but Miami is more ensemble than overwhelming individual talent, it has to be firing on all cylinders to have a chance.

Bucks small icon 5. Bucks (45-27, LW 6). Giannis Antetokounmpo said Milwaukee’s toughness and grit are why they won a ring last season and can do so again, during an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic. Antetokounmpo’s point: The Bucks didn’t get lucky with injuries in the playoffs (ie.. CP3’s hand), they fought through the ones they had better than their opponents (Antetokounmpo’s knee, Donte DiVincenzo being out, and more). This season the Bucks have had to be just as tough with Brook Lopez out, but he’s returned and Antetokounmpo has played like an MVP of late, averaging 31.5 points per game since the All-Star break. Big game for the Bucks in their chase for the two-seed next Tuesday at Philadelphia.

Jazz small icon 6. Jazz (45-27, LW 8). Reports suddenly surfacing of coach Quin Snyder being a potential target of the Spurs and Lakers have the odor of an agent/coach trying to create leverage during a contract extension negotiation (even if those talks are not public). People on the ground in Utah say Snyder has a good relationship with new team owner Ryan Smith, but if the Jazz are bounced from the playoffs before the conference finals, there is likely to be a roster overhaul that could include the coach (nothing will be off the table). The Jazz are 1-1 on a six-game road trip that will go a long way to deciding if they start the playoffs at home, with the big game being Sunday in Dallas.

Sixers small icon 7. 76ers (44-27, LW 10). Last Sunday, a fully-loaded Philadelphia team lost to a shorthanded Toronto team, and couldn’t slow down Precious Achiuwa. The next night, with Joel Embiid and James Harden in street clothes, Tyrese Maxey took over against the No. 1 team in the East, the Heat, and got the win. That inconsistent, Jekyll and Hyde team is why Sixers fans should be concerned heading into the playoffs. The 76ers have been up and down, while the Celtics have been the hottest team in the league and the Bucks have gotten healthy and started to put things together. On a good day the Sixers can hang with those teams — and anyone else in the NBA — but come the playoffs can they string together a series of good days? The good news, when Harden and Embiid share the court the 76ers have a +15.8 net rating. It’s the other minutes they need to make consistent.

Mavericks small icon 8. Mavericks (44-28, LW 4). Dallas sits as the No. 5 seed in the West with 10 games left, but there are good reasons to think they could finish No. 4 — starting the playoffs at home — and maybe No. 3. One reason is that the Mavs are just one game back of the four-seed Jazz. Another is Utah has one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league, while Dallas has one of the easiest. Another reason: Luka Doncic has been playing the best basketball of his career in recent weeks. One final reason: Spencer Dinwiddie keeps doing things like this.

9. Timberwolves (42-31, LW 11). Since the All-Star break the Timberwolves are 11-3 with a +11.6 net rating (best in the NBA), with a top-three offense and defense in that stretch. With 42 wins, the Timberwolves are guaranteed a winning season for only the second time in 17 seasons. Will that be enough to climb out of the No. 7 seed and avoid the play-in? The Timberwolves are just one game back of the Nuggets with nine games to play, but Minnesota has a tougher schedule. Minnesota and Denver face each other on April 1.

Warriors small icon 10. Warriors (47-25, LW 7). Golden State is 2-6 without Stephen Curry this season and their offensive rating falls to bottom five in the league when he is not on the court. With Curry sidelined through much of the rest of the regular season with a sprained foot, Golden State has to find a way to get some wins to hold on to the No. 3 seed (they are two games up on the Jazz, three on the surging Mavericks), and blowing a 14-point lead to lose to Orlando on Tuesday was disheartening. Even if the Warriors get Curry back healthy for the playoffs, is their chemistry baked in enough they can just pick up where they left off and be contenders, or are the Warriors in trouble this postseason?

Nets small icon 11. Nets (38-34, LW 12). Kyrie Irving has been the leading scorer in the NBA since the All-Star break, averaging 37.8 points per game. In the games he gets to play. New York Mayor Eric Adams spoke Tuesday and didn’t sound like a guy on the verge of lifting the private employer mandate soon (the one keeping Irving from playing home games). Ben Simmons got an epidural but doesn’t sound close to returning, and LaMarcus Aldridge‘s status remains unclear. Despite all the questions, the Nets have won 6-of-7, including beating the 76ers and Jazz in that mix, and are gaining momentum heading into the playoffs. That’s what a healthy Kevin Durant can bring you.

Nuggets small icon 12. Nuggets (43-30, LW 9). Nikola Jokic‘s MVP case could take a hit if Denver can’t avoid the play-in, and with red-hot Minnesota just one-game back of the Nuggets, the threat of falling back to No. 7 and being in the play-in is real. What has helped keep the Nuggets afloat is the improved play of their bench in recent weeks, with Bones Hyland, JaMychal Green, and even some timely DeMarcus Cousins play giving the Nuggets a boost. Minnesota faces Denver on April 1 in a game that could go a long way to deciding who gets the No. 6 seed.

Bulls small icon 13. Bulls (42-30, LW 13). “At some point, we’ve got to get tired of getting our butt kicked like this and flip that switch.” That was DeMar DeRozan after a dispiriting loss to the Bucks on Tuesday that showed just how far Chicago is from a contender right now. DeRozan himself has been part of the problem: He averaged 34.2 points a game with a .630 true shooting percentage in February, has come back to earth averaging 24.7 points per game in March with a .527 TS% (below the league average). The Bulls have dropped 10-of-13 and have slid to fifth in the East, and they look like the team other teams want to face in the first round. DeRozan will need more than words to help right this ship.

Raptors small icon 14. Raptors (40-32, LW 14). Toronto is still within striking distance of the No. 6 seed (Cleveland) and avoiding the play-in tournament (and a likely meeting with the Nets in the first round of that). But they have to be more consistent. After winning 5-of-6 on a recent road trip, the Cavs dropped a game at home to the Lakers, then after redeeming themselves with a big win over the 76ers, they lost to Chicago Monday. Next up is the biggest game of the season, against the Cavaliers on Thursday — if the Raptors are going to move into the No. 6 seed this is virtually a must-win game.

Hornets small icon 15. Hornets (37-35, LW 17). Charlotte has won five in a row, with a +14.7 net rating in those games, thanks largely to LaMelo Ball sparking an elite offense (128.5 offensive rating in those five games). The Hornets currently sit as the No. 9 seed in the East and there is a chance they could climb to No. 8, but they would need some help from Brooklyn (the Nets are only one game up on the Hornets but are playing better ball). Isaiah Thomas has played pretty well for Charlotte, averaging 9 points in 13.5 minutes a night off the bench since signing with the team, plus he is shooting 45.5% from 3. Thomas earned that contract for the rest of the season.

Cavaliers small icon 16. Cavaliers (41-31, LW 15). Cleveland is 6-8 since the All-Star break with a -3.3 net rating, and that has them in danger of being passed by the Raptors and falling back into the play-in tournament (where they would face Brooklyn then, if they fall to the Nets, a win-or-go-to-Cancun game against Atlanta or Charlotte). Cleveland plays Toronto Thursday night in Canada in a game that could go a long way to determining who gets that No. 6 seed. The Cavaliers have won the three previous meetings against the Raptors, but Toronto is healthy and playing its best ball this season going into the game. Hopefully Pascal Siakam doesn’t dunk on Kevin Love like LeBron James did last week.

Hawks small icon 17. Hawks (36-36 LW 16). Nothing snaps Trae Young and the Hawks out of their funk like playing in Madison Square Garden and hearing the boos from New York fans. It wasn’t just that Young dropped 45 — although that was nice — it was the swagger and energy the entire Hawks team brought to the game. That was the confident Hawks of last season, not the ones who didn’t bring that same energy nightly this season and now will have to fight their way out of a couple of play-in games just to get into the playoffs. The Hawks that showed up in New York are just fun — I miss seeing those Hawks this season.

Clippers small icon18. Clippers (36-38, LW 18). Tyronn Lue is rightfully getting his flowers from around the league for the coaching job he has done this season, turning a team of role-players into a gritty squad that is tough to beat and known for comebacks. The Clippers are basically locked into the No. 8 seed in the West, meaning the play-in tournament is in their future. Los Angeles likely faces Minnesota or Denver in the first game, and if LA loses that one it becomes a win-or-go-on-vacation game against the Lakers or Pelicans (a Lakers vs. Clippers game with something actually on the line would be fun, that’s how a real rivalry is built). Whatever happens, you know the Clippers will be well prepared.

Pelicans small icon 19. Pelicans (30-42, LW 19). Zion Williamson is throwing down dunks on Instagram and has been cleared to play one-on-one at practices, all good signs, but it still seems highly unlikely he plays this season. Interesting non-Zion front court note, the Pelicans are +2.9 per 100 this season when Jonas Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes are on the court together (Hayes is now in the starting lineup). Willie Green is finding combinations that work, putting together lineups that maybe (just maybe) could help New Orleans get out of the play-in and into the playoffs. It’s a long shot, but Green and CJ McCollum have the Pelicans playing hard and making themselves a tough out.

Lakers small icon 20. Lakers (31-41, LW 22). Anthony Davis has started doing some on-court work, a hopeful sign for the Lakers because any dreams of making a playoff push — or, frankly, getting out of the play-in — hinge on Davis returning close to form. That doesn’t take anything away from LeBron James, who deserves all the praise coming his way after passing Karl Malone for second on the all-time scoring list. LeBron’s GOAT case will be based in part on longevity, and how well he is playing this deep into his career. Don’t take my word for it, ask Kevin Love.

Spurs small icon 21. Spurs (28-44, LW 20). Keldon Johnson has taken a step forward with his game as the season has moved along, he has a couple of 30+ point games since the All-Star break and had the game-winning putback against the Warriors on Sunday. San Antonio’s hopes of making the play-in took a blow last Friday when they lost to New Orleans, the team the Spurs are trying to catch. The Spurs are now two games out with 10 to play, to have any chance they need revenge and a win on Saturday in New Orleans.

Knicks small icon 22. Knicks (30-42, LW 21). Julius Randle now has been fined four times by the league this season, totaling $130,000, which everyone might look past if he were playing better, but he’s regressed a lot from last season’s Most Improved Player. Dan Devine at The Ringer found this stat and its worth passing along as we think about the Knicks going forward: New York is +4.4 per 100 in minutes with RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley on the court but no Randle this season.

Pacers small icon 23. Pacers (25-47, LW 24). It will be interesting to see the market for free agent T.J. Warren this summer. He looked like he could be a core part of a winning team in the bubble, but foot injuries have sidelined him for most of two years now (he last stepped on a court in December 2020). Warren is now officially out for the season, having not played a minute this season and just four games over the last two. Hard to imagine a team will offer more than the minimum, but there will be interested teams because of his potential. Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton go up against their former team Wednesday (in Indiana).

Wizards small icon 24. Wizards (30-41, LW 23). Of course there are other teams, like Miami, eyeing Bradley Beal this summer, but sources continue to say he’s likely going to take the big bag from Washington, then get out in a year or two if things don’t work out. Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 20.8 points , 7.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks a game as a member of the Wizards, he’s been efficient and played some of the best basketball of his career. If Beal returns, if Porzingis stays healthy, and if the young core of the Wizards takes a step forward there is potential in our nation’s capital. But there are a lot of “ifs” in that sentence.

Kings small icon 25. Kings (25-48, LW 25). Promising signs can be hard to come by in Sacramento, but rookie Davion Mitchell going off for 28 points with nine assists to help force overtime against the Suns this week. Domantas Sabonis is out with a bone bruise in his knee, and while the team says it will re-evaluate him in 10 days, it’s hard to imagine they will put him back on the court this season and take any risk for a handful of meaningless games.

Blazers small icon 26. Trail Blazers (27-44, LW 26). There are reports that Portland will go after the Pistons’ Jerami Grant, and make sure they re-sign Anfernee Simons this summer. Both of those would be quality moves, but is that going to be enough to make the Trail Blazers a top-four threat in a deep West next year? More importantly, will that be enough to make Damian Lillard happy? Lillard and the front office are reportedly on the same page about rebuilding, but Lillard may need to step back and assess his priorities for the remainder of his career. He may not be able to have it all, so what does he want.

Magic small icon 27. Magic 20-53, LW 27). On the list of positives out of this season for Orlando, the emergence of Wendell Carter as a quality rotation big for them is near the top. Carter had 30 and 16 against the Thunder. Jonathan Isaac undergoing a “small surgical procedure” on a “minor” right hamstring injury, would be on the other end of the scale. Isaac has been out all season and this setback is concerning for a player the franchise sees as a defensive anchor going forward. Isaac puts in the work, that isn’t the question, but if he can’t stay healthy he can’t help the team.

Pistons small icon 28. Pistons (19-53, LW 28). The emergence of Cade Cunningham and some strong games from Jerami Grant have lifted the Pistons to 19th in the NBA in offense since the All-Star break. That may not sound like much, but it’s far better than their pre-break numbers (29th in the league, and the offense was 10 points per 100 possessions worse). There is hope, there is also still a long way to go in Detroit. The Pistons continue to get solid play from Marvin Bagley III as well, he has played his way into his next contract since the trade deadline.

Rockets small icon 29. Rockets (18-54, LW 30). The Rockets are 3-18 in their last 21 games, with a bottom five offense and defense in the league this season. Houston fans knew this season was going to be brutal and it has lived up to that billing. On the bright side, the No. 2 pick Jalen Green continues to grow and improve, and he is going to get paired with another high pick out of this draft. It’s taking time, but the Rockets are building something, it’s just that the present is not pretty.

Thunder small icon 30. Thunder (20-52, LW 29). Darius Bazley has shown some promise of late with four 22+ point games in his last six outings. Combine that with his length and athleticism, and Bazely remains an interesting prospect, and one the Thunder could offer a contract extension to this summer (the sides will undoubtedly talk, whether they can find a number is another question). Losers of 10 in a row, things will not get much better for Oklahoma City the rest of the season.

Brad Stevens confirms Joe Mazzulla will return as Celtics coach


Despite the sting of losing to the No. 8 seed Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, don’t expect sweeping changes in Boston. Not to the Celtics’ coaching staff and not to the roster.

Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Steven made that clear in his end-of-season press conference. It starts with bringing back Joe Mazzulla, which was expected after he was given a multi-year contract extension during the season. Stevens was asked if Mazzulla was the right person to lead the Celtics after an uneven season (hat tip NBC Sports Boston).

“Yeah, I think he is,” Stevens said. “I thought he did a really good job with this group. Everybody’s going to overreact to the best players and coaches after every game. That’s always the way it is. We know that going in, so we have to be able to judge things on the whole.

“He’s a terrific leader, he’ll only get better at anything that he can learn from this year, because he’s constantly trying to learn. And he’s accountable. Those leadership qualities are hard to find. I know they’re easy to talk about, but when you can show all those through the expectations and the microscope that he was under, that’s hard to do. Our players, our staff, everybody around him believe(s) in him, and we’ve got to do our best to support him going forward.”

The expectation is that veteran coaches — ideally at least one person with NBA head coaching experience — will be added to Mazzulla’s staff to help with the maturation process of the young coach. But he will be back.

Stevens also was asked about Jaylen Brown, who is eligible for a supermax extension of around $295 million over five years (his making All-NBA made him eligible for 35% of the salary cap). Stevens was limited in what he could say due to (archaic) tampering rules.

“I’ve had nothing but great conversations with Jaylen, but we can’t talk about all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I’m not allowed to talk about the contract details, let alone the extension because it’s not of that time yet right now. His window is between July 1 and October or whatever it is.

“But I can say without a doubt that we want Jaylen to be here. He’s a big part of us. We believe in him. I’m thankful for him. I’m really thankful for when those guys (Jayson Tatum and Brown) have success, they come back to work. And when they get beat, they own it and come back to work. I know that’s what they’re about, and that’s hard to find. Kinda like what I talked about with leadership earlier. Those qualities aren’t for everyone. Jaylen had a great year, All-NBA year and he’s a big part of us moving forward in our eyes.”

Despite Brown’s struggles against the Heat, it’s a no-brainer for the Celtics to retain the 26-year-old All-NBA player entering his prime. They should offer him the full supermax, and his public comments made it sound like that’s what he expects. Mess around in negotiations and try to get Brown to take less than the full max and then the threat of Brown leaving becomes more real. Only one player has ever rejected a supermax extension: Kawhi Leonard when he was trying to force a trade. (If Boston puts the full 35% max on the table and Brown rejects it, then the game changes and they have to trade him this summer, but don’t bet on him walking away from more than a quarter of a billion dollars).

There will be changes on the Celtics roster, but expect Brown and Mazzulla to return.

Purdue’s Zach Edey headlines list of players to withdraw from NBA Draft

Fairleigh Dickinson v Purdue
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The winner of the 2023 John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith College Player of the Year Award is headed back for another year in the college ranks. And it’s the right move.

Zach Edey headlines the list of 181 players who withdrew their names from the NBA Draft, and he is headed back to Purdue for another season. He confirmed it on Twitter in his own way.

Edey averaged 22.3 points a game on 60.7% shooting and 12.9 rebounds a game last season for the Boilermakers, and his measurements at the NBA Draft Combine were hard to ignore — 7-3¼ barefoot, with a 7-10½ wingspan. However, his lack of elite athleticism, questions about his ability to defend in space, and an old-school, near-the-basket game are not natural fits with where the NBA is trending. He was expected to get picked in the back half of the second round (meaning no guaranteed contract), if at all.

With that, he made the right decision to return to college. If the Toronto native can arrange a new student visa that allows him to better capitalize on NIL money, a return to Purdue is likely the right financial decision as well.

Here are some of the biggest names among the 181 who withdrew from the NBA Draft (via Jonathan Givony of ESPN), with all projected to go after No. 40 or later:

Trey Alexander (Creighton)
Reece Beekman (Virginia)
Adem Bona (UCLA)
Jalen Bridges (Baylor)
Tristan da Silva (Colorado)
Zach Edey (Purdue)
Coleman Hawkins (Illinois)
DaRon Holmes (Dayton)
Josiah-Jordan James (Tennessee)
Dillon Jones (Weber State)
Judah Mintz (Syracuse)
Dillon Mitchell (Texas)
Terrence Shannon (Illinois)

The NBA Draft takes place on June 22.

Lakers rumored to prefer sign-and-trade options for D’Angelo Russell, eye Fred VanVleet

2023 Play-In Tournament - Chicago Bulls v Toronto Raptors
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D'Angelo Russell helped the Lakers turn their season around after the All-Star break. He provided needed shot creation at the point, averaged 17.4 points per game while shooting 41.4% from 3, and generally fit nicely on the court. However, his limitations — particularly on the defensive end — were exposed in the playoffs, especially by the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

Russell is an unrestricted free agent and the Lakers are faced with choices: Re-sign him, let him walk, or maybe find a sign-and-trade that can bring back a player who is a better fit for a Lakers roster with championship aspirations next season. The Lakers would ideally like the sign-and-trade option, suggests Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

My read on the situation is that the Lakers would prefer to use D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade, but I’m not sure the market is there.

Landing Kyrie Irving for Russell is shaping up to be a pipe dream, especially with Dallas unlikely to help Los Angeles out. Fred VanVleet, a Klutch client, looms as a possibility, but adding him would require Toronto to agree to terms with Russell (or take on the Beasley and Bamba contracts).

Forget about a Kyrie Irving sign-and-trade with the Lakers for Russell, that appears off the table (unless the Lakers add so many sweeteners Dallas can’t say no… and didn’t the Lakers just gut their roster for a guard in Russell Westbrook?)

Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times adds this.

Fred VanVleet’s name has been mentioned since even before he joined Klutch Sports, though the Lakers could again be in a position where they’d be forced to part with one or more draft picks in a deal. Russell’s postseason struggles were probably a little overblown after a disastrous Western Conference finals, but expect the Lakers to look at upgrade options. There’s still a chance Russell returns on a good deal and the Lakers actually get the continuity they’ve spoken about building.

VanVleet has a $22.8 million player option he is widely expected to opt out of seeking more money and years. He averaged 19.3 points and 7.2 assists a game last season, is a respectable defender, and is a former All-Star and NBA champion.

The questions start with, what are Toronto’s plans? They have yet to hire a new head coach after firing Nick Nurse, and there isn’t a sense of whether they will try to re-sign VanVleet, extend Pascal Siakam and run it back, break the entire thing up, or travel a middle ground reworking the roster. Dreams of a sign-and-trade only work if the Raptors play along. And, if the Raptors come around to consider a sign-and-trade for VanVleet, do they want Russell in that deal? Plus, the Lakers likely have to throw in the last first-round pick they can trade to get Toronto even to consider it.

All of which is to say, it’s a long shot VanVleet is a Laker. Not impossible, but not likely.

The smart money is on the Lakers re-signing Russell and considering trade options at next February’s deadline or next summer, if they feel it’s time to move on.

Celtics’ Payton Pritchard reportedly wants a trade this summer

2023 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Miami Heat
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Payton Pritchard saw his role as a reserve guard with the Celtics shrink this season, which may have had less to do with the changeover to Joe Mazzulla as coach and more to do with the addition of Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon.

Either way, Pritchard doesn’t like it and wants to be traded this offseason, reports Jay King and Jared Weiss of The Athletic (in a must-read breakdown of the Celtics’ season and where they ultimately fell short.

With the new onerous CBA rules looming after next season, the front office will likely have to decide in the next 12 months whether it can afford its expensive veteran depth. Payton Pritchard has made it clear he hopes to be traded this summer, according to multiple team sources, so will the Celtics move him if they trade one of their core guards?

Pritchard may not get his wish for the financial reasons mentioned by King and Weiss — Boston has some hard decisions to make coming up. For next season, the Celtics are already $4 million into the luxury tax with 12 people on the roster, and that is without re-signing Grant Williams (if they can) or thinking about the super-max contract Jaylen Brown is about to sign that will kick in for the 2024-25 season. With the draconian threat of the second “lead” tax apron looming in a year, the Celtics must trim salary. One way to do that this summer is to trade one of Marcus Smart, Derrick White or Malcolm Brogdon, which is what is widely expected to happen around the league.

With one of those three gone, minutes open up for Pritchard, who has a team option for $4 million next season. That’s a great value contract the Celtics likely want to keep.

Meaning Pritchard may not get his wish to be sent out of Boston, but if he ends up staying, he should see more run next season.