As the Boston Celtics continue to dust off the cobwebs of the offseason, the front office still has a few loose ends to tie up. Obviously, multiple injuries and Ime Udoka’s suspension have jumped to the forefront of most fans’ minds, but there’s another important thing they need to take care of - Grant Williams’ contract extension.
In fact, it should be the most pressing item on their laundry list at the moment. Boston has until October 17 to get an extension done, or Williams will enter restricted free agency next summer.
With less than two weeks left, Williams isn’t too concerned with the numbers right now. He said that he chooses to leave it up to his agents and the Celtics front office.
“I couldn’t even tell you. I leave that stuff up to my agents. That’s between my agents, Brad [Stevens], [Mike] Zarren and those guys. Whatever they want to get done, they want to get done.”
Williams enjoyed a ton of success last season. He had a breakout year and played a crucial role in Boston’s run to the NBA Finals, which included a historical effort in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semis against the Bucks. The 23-year-old’s three-point shooting and defense have become an integral part of the Celtics’ rotation.
For all of those reasons, he’ll likely be looking at a large chunk of change his next deal. I spoke with resident cap expert Keith Smith earlier this summer about what the numbers could look like, and he projected “something in the $12 to $13 million a year range for average salary.”
That being said, Smith also noted the potential risks of letting Williams hit restricted free agency next summer. He said that, looking at the teams who are projected to have cap space, “there’s a handful of teams that he could make sense on, that could pay him, you know, something in the $15 to $20 million a year range.”
Again, though, while securing a lucrative deal is important, Williams has his eyes on the court rather than the pen and paper.
“For me, I’m just approaching every single day as if I either have it or I don’t have it. Just play the game the right way, make sure the team’s winning and focus on the ultimate goal of mine and that stuff will take care of itself. For me, I’m so locked in on the basketball side of things. Contract, anything of that nature, if it happens, I’ll be happy, but until then, let’s just play it out the way we are.”
Grant Williams on a possible contract extension: "That stuff will take care of itself"— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 5, 2022
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And with Boston’s recent injuries to Robert Williams and Danilo Gallinari, he could be expected to take on a larger role. But he said that no matter what happens, he’ll be ready.
“If it changes, I’ll see. But for me, I just go with what the day comes. There might be a day when I’m asked to guard somebody. It might be a day where I’m asked to play a different role. For me, it’s just a matter of perspective, understanding where you’re at, and not trying to force anything because an opportunity might be available, but you have to do your job to seize the opportunity the right way with the right mindset and right intensity.”
Despite being so young, Williams was a vocal part of Boston’s success last year, too. He took on more of a leadership role just three years into his NBA career, and it paid dividends. But he’ll have to face new challenges in that role this year, as the Celtics have a new leader in Joe Mazzulla. Although he’s been an assistant in Boston since 2019, moving into the head coach’s seat is a big-time switch-up for both him and the players.
That being said, Williams had glowing reviews for Mazzulla after just a few weeks on the job. Mazzulla led Boston to a 41-point win in their first preseason game, and Williams said that he’s done a great job of being prepared and communicating.
“There was no dropoff. Joe has done a phenomenal job. He’s been prepared for this moment for a long time. He did a great job being technical, he did a great job communicating what he wanted out of us, and he did a great job of just challenging us, even during the game. Shout out to Joe in that sense. It’s just a matter of putting those things in a line together. When we hit adversity, that’ll be the true test, but I think that he’ll be prepared, and I think that the rest of us are prepared as well.”
Williams tweaked his ankle in Wednesday night’s overtime loss to the visiting Raptors, but the 23-year-old seems fine. It’s just a small hiccup before the regular season starts in less than two weeks. And like his potential contract extension, Williams is taking it in stride.