Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley projects that during the 2023 offseason, the Boston Celtics will lose a player in free agency — but it’s not the player most would think. Buckley believes Blake Griffin will sign elsewhere as a veteran end-of-the-bench minimum-salary addition.
“The full-strength Celtics won’t need (Blake Griffin) and it’s fair to wonder whether any NBA team will,” Buckley wrote. “He turned 34 in March and has lost nearly all of his explosion to time. He had 42 shots at the rim this season; only eight of them were dunks. He’s also easy to exploit on the defensive end, particularly on the perimeter. Still, with his basketball IQ and offensive skills, he has a chance to latch on somewhere.”
Boston will have a team option on Mike Muscala’s $3.5 million salary and will see Grant Williams entering restricted free agency — with a potential payday possibly exceeding $15 million and approaching the $20 million range — , but Buckley foresees both sticking with the Celtics for the 2023-24 season.
“Muscala not only addressed a need for depth, he brought a different dimension to the frontcourt with his outside shot, Buckley wrote of Muscala. “That the Celtics sought him out to add that dimension suggests they probably want to keep him around. He has a $3.5 million team option for next season, per Spotrac, and that rate feels reasonable if Boston sees him sticking in its 2023-24 rotation.”
Regarding Williams, letting him go would be “roster malpractice” according to Buckley.
“There is undoubtedly a universe in which Grant Williams takes the money and runs out of Boston this offseason,” Buckley prefaced before saying, “We just almost assuredly don’t live in it. For starters, the Celtics—who maintain some control here since he’s a free agent—can surely appreciate the protection Williams provides as a dependable and versatile frontcourt player. Boston knows Al Horford isn’t getting any younger and has no reason to believe Robert Williams III’s injury issues are going away. Letting go of a high-level depth piece might be roster malpractice.”
Boston Celtics will retain Grant Williams if contract is ‘reasonable’
There was a bit of a caveat when it comes to Williams’ restricted free agency and the Boston Celtics retaining the 24-year-old: the offer sheet Williams signs must be “reasonable.”
“Obviously, there’s surely a walkaway price point for Boston, but who is exceeding that? Few teams have cap space this summer, and even fewer have the win-now incentives to use it,” Buckley wrote. “Williams could have perhaps convinced someone to splurge on him by authoring a breakout season, but he either plateaued or perhaps even regressed a bit. If his next contract is reasonable, the Celtics will be the ones signing his checks.”
Williams’ efficiency has gone down in 2022-23 following a career-best year in 2021-22. With that said, he has remained a key role player whose triumphs off the bench have contributed to winning basketball in the past — on the flipside, however, his struggles, as well as the rest of the second unit, were notable during the C’s 2022 NBA Finals loss.