When news broke Wednesday night that the Boston Celtics were sending Grant Williams to the Mavericks as part of a sign-and-trade, the contract details stood out: Williams reportedly will play on a four-year, $54 million contract in Dallas.
If you'll recall, Williams reportedly turned down a four-year contract extension offer from the Celtics last offseason that could have reached the "low-$50 million range" with incentives. So at first glance, Williams' decision to "bet on himself" didn't yield a much more lucrative deal while also sending him away from a legitimate contender.
But Williams seems content with how things played out.
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"I was thankful just because I feel like the way my agent and everybody talked about it was that this was our floor," Williams told The Athletic's Jared Weiss following Wednesday night's trade. "In Boston, it’s really like $48 million with the millionaire’s tax, so $54 million in Dallas is really like $58 million in Boston and $63 million in L.A.
"It was a little strategic on that end, but it’s also one of those things where the year was going great and then some things curved that. So to come out with this makes me feel very comfortable."
Williams had an up-and-down 2022-23 season with the Celtics: He averaged nearly 10 points and five rebounds per game prior to the All-Star break while starting 21 games in place of the injured Robert Williams. He fell out of head coach Joe Mazzulla's rotation in the playoffs, however, not even playing in three of Boston's six first-round games against the Atlanta Hawks.
But Williams carved out a role in the Eastern Conference Finals by playing 25 minutes per game against the Miami Heat, and felt his entire body of work could earn him more in restricted free agency than the deal he declined last summer. He was (barely) right.
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"I felt like I had done enough to maintain the conversation that I had the year prior," Williams told Weiss. "I played well enough to be like, ‘He’s worth this amount, but could be worth more if he was unrestricted.'"
For the Celtics, four years and $54 million was too steep of a price to pay the seventh or eighth man in their rotation -- especially with Kristaps Porzingis now on the roster making $36 million in 2023-24 and playing a similar position. So, it seems this situation worked out for all parties: Williams got his payday, while the Celtics maintained financial flexibility and gained the opportunity to make a future move by creating a $6.2 million traded player exception (TPE).
"I know how the numbers work out and yeah, (the Celtics) could have afforded to keep me," Williams added. "But it’s one of those things where you’re really committing and after the prior year, I didn’t think it was realistic.
"Hey, Boston was trying to maintain their leverage. It’s one of those where you can’t be mad at them for it because it just shows they want you to be there in a way."