Grant Williams and the Boston Celtics were unable to agree on a contract extension before the October 17 deadline, meaning the fourth-year guard will now enter restricted free agency next summer.
According to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, Boston’s inability to agree to terms with the Tennessee native could indicate a potential trade is on the horizon, assuming there is a suitable deal to be found.
“The Celtics opted against extending Williams, which could be a signal that he’s not a part of the franchise’s future plans. Should they not want to cover the cost of his upcoming free agency, they should find a healthy market of interested suitors,” Buckley wrote on October 19.
As constructed, the Celtics have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, with talent littered throughout their roster, and Williams is a significant part of that. According to Cleaning the Glass, the 23-year-old shot 73% at the rim, 47% from the corner three and 41% from everywhere else beyond the perimeter last season, making him one of the more reliable 3-and-D forwards in the NBA.
Though Williams is far from an untouchable member of the roster, he’s quickly becoming a vocal leader for the franchise, so it would probably take a significant offer to entice Boston to the negotiating table.
Eastern Conference Exec Understands Williams Stand Off
Recently, an Eastern Conference executive spoke with Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney under the condition of anonymity and discussed Boston’s inability to finalize an extension with Williams.
“You can understand from Boston’s angle. This is a role player. [They] don’t want to overpay him. [They’re] already shelling out a lot of money,” the executive said. “So if they go through the restricted free agency process, you might save a couple of million dollars per year, and for them, that is going to mean $8 [million] or $10 million going forward.”
With Williams as a restricted free agent, Boston would have the right to match any offer sheet Williams signs with another team, thus allowing the NBA market to set the forward’s value, rather than forcing the Celtics to try to project it. Al Horford also will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and understanding what he’s going to be looking for on his next deal can help the front office map out their future spending. Horford, who is making $26.5 million this year, will turn 37 next summer.
Williams Unaffected After Failed Negotiations
Despite being unable to agree on fresh contractual terms, Williams appears to be happy to wait until next summer to figure out his long-term future. Speaking to the media on October 18, Williams explained how there are no hard feelings between him and Boston’s front office.
“I think that for both sides, we all negotiated to get to that point. And there was no ill will. There were no frustrations. It was one of those things that you just couldn’t come to terms. It doesn’t mean that a deal doesn’t get done next year. It doesn’t mean a deal won’t get done in the future,” Williams said.
Of course, if Williams continues to show on-court improvements, and prove that last season wasn’t an outlier, he should have no problem securing a heft pay increase on his next deal — especially if he helps the Celtics return to the NBA finals.