Towards the end of his time with the Boston Celtics, Grant Williams found himself in and out of the lineup more than he would’ve liked. The man in charge of the forward’s minutes, head coach Joe Mazzulla, spoke to the media after Jaylen Brown’s contract signing and addressed Williams’ move to the Dallas Mavericks.
“Yeah, I mean anytime that you get a guy and you have someone who’s been with you for three or four years, I think that the number one goal is to leave it better than you found it,” Mazzulla told reporters Wednesday, per CLNS Media. “And I thought that Grant did a great job of that and I’m excited for him to have an opportunity in Dallas doing what he does best. I wish him nothing but the best and I appreciate also what he said. You know, him and I — it’s funny, floating into this role of being the head coach, there were a lot of relationships that I had as an assistant coach. He was a guy that I was able to get really close with over my three years here, along with a few others, and so I’m just grateful to who he is as a person and I’m excited for him as a player.”
Grant Williams cites role as driving force behind Boston Celtics exit
Though there appears to be no issues between Mazzulla and Williams, the four-year veteran recently made it clear that his role was a driving force behind his decision to skip town. On July 21, Williams joined JJ Redick and Tommy Alter on The Old Man and The Three podcast and explained that he didn’t want to be back with the Boston Celtics in a minor role next season.
“Then the role was a little bit diminished/up and down in that last year and I was coming back to a situation where I was going to be in a similar position, probably,” he told the hosts. “And then you add in Kristaps [Porzingis] and that made it almost a 100% guarantee that I’d be moving.”
Boston Celtics stars fought for Grant Williams’ playing time
Mazzulla’s strange usage of Williams became such an issue that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had to implore the coach to give the big man some run, according to The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and Jay King.
“The team’s veterans believed Williams would be crucial in the playoffs, so Tatum and Brown met with Mazzulla in early March to implore him to put Williams back into the rotation, team sources told The Athletic.”
The former Tennessee star appeared in 288 total games for the for the Celtics, starting in 58 of them. Williams averaged 6.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game, while shooting 45.1% from the field and 37.9% from beyond the arc. He was also able to make an impact on the defensive end, taking on numerous tough assignments, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.