Grant Williams and the Boston Celtics were unable to reach a contract extension before Monday’s deadline, which means the fourth-year forward is set to become a restricted free agent next offseason.
Williams explained Tuesday that not finding common ground now doesn’t preclude the sides from reaching a deal down the road. His market could look much different next summer, though, and the Celtics ultimately might need to pay more to retain his services if Williams has a strong season.
So, which teams should be viewed as competition in restricted free agency next offseason?
A lot can change before then, obviously, but an Eastern Conference executive identified three potential external landing spots, per Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney: the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder.
“There are a few young teams with cap space and some really good players on rookie deals who will have money to spend next summer,” the NBA executive told Deveney. “Detroit is the one that sticks out. They need a guy who is experienced and young, who can give them an identity on defense. Orlando is another team. You can imagine him in a Draymond Green role with a team like that. Even Oklahoma City, they are going to have to start winning eventually. He’d be a good fit there. They can all pay him.”
Williams, a first-round pick in 2019 (22nd overall), blossomed into a key rotational player for the Celtics last season, even elevating his game at times in the playoffs as Boston reached the NBA Finals. But while the 23-year-old established a solid floor as a 3-and-D bench contributor, he’ll likely be tasked with an even larger role this season as Robert Williams recovers from knee surgery and Al Horford potentially reduces his workload at age 36.
Increased minutes could mean bigger numbers. And bigger numbers could mean a more lucrative payday for Grant Williams. A tough situation for the Celtics? Sure, but they’d presumably be OK with that tradeoff as they look to contend for an NBA title during the 2022-23 campaign.