Mavericks’ Big Man Sheds Light on Bulls’ Interest in Free Agency

Chicago Bulls

Getty Grant Williams #3 of the Dallas Mavericks.

It has been an active offseason for the Chicago Bulls and it was almost a bit busier.

Chicago has re-signed Ayo Dosunmu, Nikola Vucevic, and Coby White this offseason and brought in Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig in free agency. But they were also among the teams in pursuit of Dallas Mavericks free agent acquisition, former Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams.

“It was one of those where there was a bunch of options. But the ones who are probably most concrete were the Dallas of the world and maybe the Chicago, Atlanta, maybe New York,” Williams said on ‘The Old Man & The Three’ with J.J. Redick on July 21. “Stuff like that where things were kind of getting closer and closer but I think they were still a bit further away.”

Williams, 24, said the Mavs were “aggressive” from start to finish and said the other teams were more like “backups” based on how the talks progressed.

The 6-foot-6, 234-pound Williams averaged 8.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists this past season. He shot 45.4% from the floor and 39.5% from beyond the arc, and was a key part of the Celtics’ rotation over the last two seasons before this past postseason.

Grant Williams, Ayo Dosunmu Linked in Restricted Free Agency

After letting Williams hit restricted free agency, the Celtics sign-and-traded him to the Mavericks in a three-team deal with the San Antonio Spurs.

“I think Dallas was the first priority and then there were backups in a way because of how they were attacking the conversation,” Williams said. “I think the other teams were also pursuant and trying to work and get deals done. But I think Dallas was just overly aggressive on it and ended up working out.”

Dallas almost landed Bulls big man Andre Drummond, too.

Some speculation existed that he could be swapped with Dosunmu as both players’ respective situations lingered. But the Bulls brought back the third-year guard on a three-year, $21 million contract adding another player to a crowded backcourt.

Williams landed the fourth-richest contract of the 14 restricted free agents (out of 28 total) to sign new contracts.

He is the only one to switch teams.

Bulls Explored Several Options

Williams is not the only avenue the Bulls explored to try upgrading their frontcourt. They also are said to have held an interest in center Nerlens Noel before he landed a one-year, $2.9 million contract with the Sacramento Kings.

They have also reached into the international market to land swingman Onuralp Bitim on a two-way contract. All of this is in line with comments from executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas who made similar vows to “look at everything” following the 2021-22 campaign.

Karnisovas was more successful this time around after his last attempt yielded Drummond, who is still backing up Vucevic at center. But it also included Goran Dragic who helped but was ultimately waived in favor of his replacement, Patrick Beverley.

Beverley helped the Bulls go 14-9 down the stretch, which Karnisovas hangs his hat on.

Craig, 32, offers good size at both forward spots listed at 6-foot-7 and 221 pounds. And he has some experience as a small-ball center which the Bulls need. He is also a better perimeter defender, though Williams is not a liability in that regard, capable of guarding 3-through-5 in his own right.

Williams is the younger player, though, which might have been better for the Bulls’ long-term outlook.

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