One of Payton Pritchard’s left fingers popped out at Celtics practice on Saturday. The Celtics rookie joins a staggering preseason injury list for the Celtics, already down three players in Kemba Walker, Romeo Langford and Tristan Thompson.
Brad Stevens hopes Pritchard returns soon after Boston’s trainers repositioned his finger after practice. The severity of a finger dislocation determines the missed time. Boston plays Philadelphia in its first preseason game on Tuesday before hosting Brooklyn next Saturday.
“They were able to place it back,” Stevens said. “Hopefully his timeline to return to practice will be sooner rather than later.”
While opening night seems within reach for Pritchard, Thompson is uncertain as he continues to sit out with an offseason hamstring injury. He is only participating in simulated two-on-two and three-on-threes to make offensive reads before practice. Stevens provided no timetable for his return.
“I think it’s hard to say right now,” he said. “He’s not been in any part of practice yet. He’s been in our pre-practice ... he hasn’t played in a long time. He didn’t play in the bubble, so there will be a ramp-up period for him whenever he is able to go live in practice and I’m assuming it won’t be one of those situations where you’re available one day and you get a good practice in and you can play. I think it’ll be a little bit more than that ... I don’t know what that means with regard Dec. 23, every day that passes I’d say that becomes more unlikely.”
Kemba Walker remains fully out of Celtics activities as well as part of his stem cell injection and ramp-up program. He only shoots stationary before practice alone. The next step will be playing defense in small, simulated group play.
Stevens expects to know more about his timeline in early January when the program, which began with an October injection, is scheduled to conclude. The array of injuries in part inspired the team to bring in Amile Jefferson to balance out practice numbers after the Celtics struggled to find numbers for their up-and-down work.
Romeo Langford is expected to be out into February with wrist surgery.
As rotations come into focus the availability of critical rotation players is in doubt, likely drafting Jeff Teague, Grant Williams, Robert Williams III and even Tremont Waters into significant rotation roles.
The NBA announced today game day actives can reach a maximum of 15, up from 13 before. Two-way players like Tacko Fall and Waters will go one-way this year with the Maine Red Claws inactive.
“When we define roles here, there’s a certain amount things that everybody has to do,” Stevens said, listing ball control, defense and “adding value to winning.”
The Celtics will have conversations about those roles, playing time particularly, during this coming week. They’re in full ramp-up and experimental mode, with more questions than answers.
“You’re going to be playing a little back and forth until we’re healthy.”