The Boston Celtics added another win Wednesday night, but it didn’t come without some controversy.
Despite going nine deep in his rotation, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla neglected to play Grant Williams. The victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers was the young forward’s first healthy inactive all season, prompting questions as to why he found himself out of the lineup.
Mazzulla, as he’s one to do, provided a suspect answer for the decision. One of Williams’ veteran teammates, however, gave some insight into how he’ll look to help the 24-year-old after a disappointing night.
“For Grant, just keep his head up,” Jaylen Brown said postgame, per NBC Sports Boston video. “Grant is — he knows what he brings to this team and the type of player he is. He’s been able to carve value out in this league. A couple games here and there, based on whatever. It doesn’t mean anything, more or less.
“Grant has helped us win playoff games. Grant has helped us get to the finals last year. Obviously we’re going to need him, so keep his head (up). He’s going to be alright, he’s a professional. Just gotta keep moving forward.”
The message is easy coming from his teammates, but finding himself out of the lineup was surely shocking for Williams.
The 24-year-old entered this season expecting big things out of himself, setting clear contract expectations that the Celtics ultimately were not willing to meet prior to the NBA’s extension deadline. That put Williams on the hot seat, making him earn whatever payday he receives as a free agent this offseason.
Prior to the out-of-the-blue DNP, he had done a tremendous job. Williams is averaging 8.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists across 27.3 minutes per game — all career-high marks.
This one night won’t be ruining Williams’ chances at receiving a payday, but they might have sent a message that he has yet to earn that big contract from the Celtics.