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The Grant Williams decision looms large for the Celtics

There are tax and team building questions that the Celtics need to answer regarding their approach to restricted free agent Grant Williams

Boston Celtics v Chicago Bulls Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Note: I’m going to miss Keith Smith on this blog for a lot of reasons, but he will be explicitly missed on days when we have cap questions about the Celtics. With that said, he has found a new full time home on Spotrac and we couldn’t be happier for him. We will also happily aggregate the articles he writes over there. Just don’t forget to click through! Lots of good information and analysis (as you would expect)!

Now that the team has traded Marcus Smart of Kristaps Porzingis, the next immediate question becomes what to do with restricted free agent Grant Williams.

Keith Smith talks about this decision on Spotrac:

As for the rest of the roster, the Celtics are right up against the super tax line. That means they are basically re-signing Grant Williams, moving him in a sign-and-trade or losing him for nothing. Even if Williams leaves town, Boston may not find enough wiggle room to use the $5 million Taxpayer MLE.

Considering the downward pressure that the new CBA is putting on teams just like the Celtics, many have assumed that the team will (in one way or another) have to move on from Grant. In particular after the team just traded for a big man.

However, I’m not sure if it is that cut and dry. There’s a pathway for keeping Grant in Boston, but it comes with a cost.

There’s a school of thought that says the Celtics should re-sign Williams and let tomorrow’s problems be tomorrow’s problems. That’s perfectly valid, given Boston is a title contender right now. But eventually that bill comes due. As long as Brad Stevens and his staff realize they can’t delay it forever, and have a long-term plan, there’s no reason they can’t bring Williams back for this season.

That “bill” could include needing to use draft capital in order to dump salary next summer. We’re talking about an offseason where a lot of teams could be desperate to dump salary, which could put the Celtics at a disadvantage from a leverage standpoint.

With that said, the Celtics should be operating from a win-now perspective. They’ve already signaled that they intend to give Jaylen Brown the supermax. That puts them on a road to be tax payers anyway. Maybe you just bite the bullet and pay the price down the road.

The team is already going to be under a whole lot of pressure to win next season. If things go sideways, the team is going to have some very difficult decisions about the future of the franchise.

Of course the willingness to pay that bill has a lot to do with the immediate actual cost that Grant commands on the free agent market. Already we’ve heard about several teams that are more than willing to give him above the mid-level exception. How far above will have a lot to say with the Celtics’ decision.

There are still a lot of options for Brad Stevens and the Celtics. Is the team willing to push all-in with Grant and figure out “the bill” down the line? Do they move off of Brogdon’s salary instead? Who and what can the team get back in trades? Lots and lots of questions still to be answered. We should start to get some answers here in a few days as the market for Williams develops.

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