Coming off an appearance in the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics are mostly returning the same crew that brought them so far last season. The problem is, they’ve got to pay the players on that roster going forward.
The main player they’ve got to pay at this point is forward Grant Williams, who blossomed into one of the better role players in the league last year, when he averaged 7.8 points in 24.4 minutes, shooting 41.1% from the 3-point line as one of the top 3-and-D big men in the league.
Williams was drafted in 2019, which means he is eligible for a contract extension heading into next season. While there have been talks, a source with knowledge of the situation said, the two sides spoke earlier in the offseason but nothing has come to fruition recently. At this point, Heavy Sports was told, there are no other talks scheduled between the Celtics and Williams.
There is still a month to go, though, before the Celtics run up against the deadline for an extension, as teams and players can talk until the October 17 start of the season before getting a deal. The source involved in the discussions insisted there is still “optimism” around Williams’ extension possibility, though, “You don’t know sometimes until you get down to the final few days.”
Robert Williams Could Set Grant Williams’ Market
Williams has certainly proved himself as a role player with Boston, especially with his performance as an all-around forward off the bench for Boston. Williams was drafted by former Celtics boss Danny Ainge, but became a favorite of Brad Stevens, first while he was coaching the team and now while he is running the team as president.
One of the complicating factors on a Celtics-Grant Williams contract extension is what they’re paying a fellow Williams, big man Robert Williams. Because of his history of injury, Robert Williams got an extension worth four years and $54 million last year with incentives, though he clearly outplayed that deal over the course of this season.
Robert Williams has since become a star at the center position, and the Celtics have benefited. His health remains a concern, though he has been said to be 100% here in the offseason, according to a source. Grant Williams has been more reliable in terms of health, and has played nearly 70 games per season since entering the NBA in 2019.
Robert Williams averaged 10.0 points last year, with 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. All three numbers were career-highs. Both he and Grant Williams have hit their career strides at the same time.
Celtics Need to Keep Championship Contender Together
Worth noting—and Williams’ camp has certainly noted—has been the fact that the Celtics realize they’re in a championship-window phase of team development. That can only benefit Grant Williams because, next summer, there will be an influx of teams under the salary cap and able to present contracts of greater value than what the Celtics can give.
Imagine Grant Williams in, say, a Detroit Pistons uniform. Not a bad look for his style of play, right? The Pistons would have the money to sign him next year.
But Boston can head off any issues going forward by giving Grant Williams an extension now. The consensus around the league had been than Grant Williams would get what Robert Williams got, something in the range of four years and $48 million, and maybe around $55 million with incentives.
Grant Williams will likely ask for more, though—four years and $55-60 million or so, according to rival team executives.
The Celtics could pay that for Grant Williams, even if it knocks him a bit out of line with the rest of the team’s roster. The team and Williams might not be talking now, but sources say they soon will, and there will be a fascinating Grant Williams contract at the end of it.