Over the past week, we’ve all heard how Boston Celtics Get away from the negotiating table for once Brooklyn Networks Reply to Brad Stevens’ Original Show by Kevin Durant. And at one point or another, we’ve all tried to figure out who the “overtime player” could be, should Stevens return to the discussions in the coming weeks.
Rest assured, there is little or no chance that the extra man will be Robert Williams, as giving up Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Time Lord is the quickest path to NBA purgatory – no matter who comes back in return.
This is where the name Grant Williams comes into the equation, as the improvements he’s made over the past twelve months make him a desirable addition to the trade package. However, there is a slight snag in that equation, which may work in Williams’ favour, assuming he would like to stay with the Celtics.
Grant Williams is entering the final year of his contract on the junior range, and he is eligible for an extension. Prior to his improved play last season, Boston could have paid him pennies on the dollar and kept the youngster ahead in the long run. But things are different now. That means the Celtics have a potential headache – a headache no other team wants to have before the start of the season.
Instead of expecting to pay a small fee to Williams over the next few years, he played the part in a reasonable contract, which could run anywhere from $8 million to $12 million a year without anyone knocking. Brad Stevens would definitely have a number in mind, and wouldn’t want to go over it, if at all at all possible.
But Williams holds some cards here. Tennessee Alum has the ability to decline an extension and test the free agency if he feels he can earn more in the open market, at which point Boston will need to dig into its checkbook.
Why on earth would Brooklyn, or any other potential business partner, want to suck up this kind of headache? Sure, Williams has proven himself in the post-season and was a major factor in how the Celtics defended (important) Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmue and Pam Adebayo in the playoffs, but at the end of the day, you’re basically paying based on your one-year sample size.
I’ve said this all week, but Grant Williams has been trusted to switch to Kyrie and KD on the periphery – and limit those guys – talking a lot about his development since last season
Adam Taylor (AdamTaylorNBA) April 24, 2022
Because prior to last season, she wasn’t getting that kind of production from the big group for a third year, and there were legitimate concerns about his ability to stay in the league beyond his rookie contract.
“I would say it’s 70/30 — the improvement aspect is 70, and I feel it was the amount of effort I put into making shots last summer, the defensive strength I grew with… that allowed me to play a role that was needed. And the opportunity presented itself,” Williams said while appearing on a recent episode of Duncan Robinson’s podcast.
Suddenly, despite his impressive season, Williams looks like someone you wouldn’t want any part of, at least, until his contract status is resolved.
The other side of the argument
Now, that doesn’t mean Boston won’t be willing to include him in a deal, because the same reason other teams are likely to turn their noses up at him is the same reason the Celtics are tempted to negotiate – you pass the issue on to someone else.
The last thing you want, as a opposing team, is to have a disgruntled player in the dressing room, who is feeling kind of out of the way because negotiations have stalled, or they are not happy with what was on offer. On top of that, Boston is already working on damage control, as Jaylen Brown couldn’t be happy trading the trade rumors for the umpteenth time.
So, if Brooklyn or any other potential business partner shows interest in Williams this summer, there is a very real chance that the front office will be tempted to wash their hands of a scenario that could quickly become problematic for them.
Restricted Free Agency
It’s worth noting that if Williams and the Celtics, or any other team, fail to agree to an extension, that doesn’t mean he can simply go out in the summer. Under that premise, Williams would enter restricted free agency, allowing Boston to match whatever offer came in for the versatile striker – but this could sometimes be detrimental to the team’s resilience.
The Phoenix Suns took that route with Deandre Ayton last season and ended up with a $133 million bid from the Indiana Pacers. Williams obviously won’t make that kind of money in the free-agent market – but teams will be looking to raise the price, even if it’s just to hand the Celtics going forward.
While the idea of entering a bidding war next summer is not likely to add much urgency to Stevens sitting at the negotiating table, it is certainly more reason to believe that all parties involved will want to reach an amicable agreement as soon as possible.
Assuming Williams is flexible on contractual terms, this problem does not become a factor, and he remains in Boston for the foreseeable future. The fact of the matter is that if the young striker can replicate and maintain the level of production we saw from him last season, he will be a vital part of what Ime Udoka and the Celtics are trying to do from a planning standpoint, while also being one of the top threats on the roster, if not in league.
Williams got the right to discuss a big payday, but that doesn’t mean the impending discussions won’t lead to a headache, but if we’re being honest, we all knew such a situation was on the horizon, and now it will. It is interesting to see how it is all done.