Celtics Face Interest From ‘4 or 5 Teams’ For Impending Free Agent: Sources

Grant Williams, Boston Celtics

Getty Grant Williams, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics failed to agree to an extension with Grant Williams this past summer, and that could come back to haunt the at the end of the current season when the fourth-year forward becomes a restricted free agent.

According to an Eastern Conference executive, who spoke with Heavy on Sports Sean Deveney under the condition of anonymity, the Celtics could face competition from four or five cap space teams this summer, as Grant Williams’ stock continues to rise.

“What would scare me if I were the Celtics, is that every team with cap space next summer is going to want a young veteran who can help them win and Grant is 24 years old. Detroit has scorers, Orlando has scorers, San Antonio, maybe even he’d be a fit in Houston, maybe not with Jabari (Smith) there. Indiana has been really solid this year and a guy like Grant Williams could probably raise their level.

And there is the (Victor) Wembanyama factor, too. Whoever gets him to be their center for the future, they are going to want a tough, young, defensive-minded guy who can shoot the 3 but does not need a lot of plays called for him. That’s Grant. So, it is not like there is one team out there you have to worry about if you are Boston. There are four or five,” The executive said.

Williams is having a fantastic start to the new season, averaging 10.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting 57.8% from the field and 48.2% from deep, all while showing an improved off-the-dribble game and flashing the early signs of a reliable floater in the short mid-range.

Celtics Were Reluctant to Overpay Williams

According to a November 14 report by HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, the Celtics were reluctant to pay Williams more than $14 million per year, and never exceed that number during their contract negotiations this past off-season.

“During extension talks with Grant Williams, the Celtics never offered more than $50 million guaranteed over four years, league sources told HoopsHype. As I previously reported on HoopsHype, Williams would’ve taken a deal for $14 million annually. There are some around the league that believe an offer around $18 million annually could be too much for Boston to match in restricted free agency,” Scotto wrote.

It would appear that Williams will probably receive higher offers once free agency begins, at which point the Celtics will have a difficult decision to make: match any offer sheet Williams signs or lose him for nothing to the highest bidder.

Celtics Have to Deal With Al Horford’s Contract Too

Williams isn’t the only core member of the Celtics rotation set to hit free agency at the end of the season. Veteran big man Al Horford is also in the final year of his current deal and will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

According to an Eastern Conference executive, who spoke with Deveney back in October, Horford plans to remain with the Celtics for the rest of his career, assuming the two parties can agree on contractual terms, and Boston doesn’t look to trade him before the February deadline.

“The intention as far as what most of us have heard is Al is going to retire in Boston. Now, if you can use him to get a high-level star? Maybe that changes. But they do not want to move off of him unless there is a really significant opportunity,” The executive said.

Horford has revamped his playing style this season, becoming more perimeter-based, and converting 47.5% of his three-point attempts. Still, it seems like the Celtics will be fighting free-agent battles on multiple fronts in the summer of 2023, and that’s before Jaylen Brown becomes a free agent in 2024. Brad Stevens has his work cut out if he wishes to keep the Celtics’ core intact for the long haul.
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