Tuesday, September 20, 2022

NBA Sources: No talks between Celtics, key players planned over new contract

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After an appearance in the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics return with mostly the same squad that got them this far last season. The problem is that they have to pay the players on that roster going forward.

The main player they have to pay at this point is forward Grant Williams, who blossomed into one of the best role-playing players in the league last year when he averaged 7.8 points in 24.4 minutes and 41.1% of the 3-point line shot as one of the ultimate 3-and-D Big Men in the league.

Williams was drafted in 2019, meaning he’s eligible for a contract extension into next season. While there have been talks, a source with knowledge of the situation said the two sides spoke earlier in the off-season but nothing has come to fruition lately. At the time, Heavy Sports was told that no further talks were planned between the Celtics and Williams.

However, the Celtics still have a month to run against the deadline for an extension, as teams and players have until the October 17 start of the season to talk before getting a deal. The source involved in the discussions insisted there is still “optimism” about Williams’ renewal possibility, although: “Sometimes you don’t know until you get to the last few days.”

Williams certainly proved himself a role player at Boston, particularly 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 Brad Stevens favorite, first while coaching the team and now while managing the team as president.

One of the complicating factors in a Celtics-Grant Williams contract extension is what they’re paying another Williams, big man Robert Williams. Because of his injury history, Robert Williams received a four-year, $54 million incentivized extension last year, though he significantly overplayed that deal later this season.

Robert Williams is now a star in the middle position and the Celtics have benefited from that. His health remains a concern although he is said to be here 100% in the off-season, according to a source. Grant Williams is more reliable in terms of health and has played nearly 70 games per season since joining 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 advanced their careers at the same time.

What was notable – and Williams’ camp certainly noticed – was the fact that the Celtics realize they are in a period of team development in a championship window. Grant Williams can only benefit from this, as next summer there will be an influx of teams below the salary cap and able to come up with contracts of greater value than what the Celtics can give.

For example, imagine Grant Williams in a Detroit Pistons uniform. Not a bad look for his playstyle, right? The Pistons would have the money to sign him next year.

However, Boston can avert any trouble in the future by granting an extension to Grant Williams now. The consensus in the league was that Grant Williams would get what Robert Williams got, something in the region of four years and $48 million and maybe around $55 million with incentives.

However, Grant Williams is likely to ask for more — four years and about $55-$60 million, according to rival teams’ executives.

The Celtics will likely pay that for Grant Williams, even if it puts him a bit out of line with the rest of the team’s roster. The team and Williams may not be speaking now, but sources say they will soon and there will be an intriguing deal with Grant Williams in the end.

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