It’s the offseason for the NBA, which has become almost more entertaining than the regular season, but not for the Hawks, who have yet to make a move outside of trading John Collins.
However, we have our first real nugget of free agency. According to Jared Weiss of The Athletic (subscription required), Atlanta is one of several clubs still in the mix for Celtics free agent Grant Williams.
Though most of the league’s cap space has dried up at this point, the expectation with Williams has always been that a sign-and-trade or midlevel exception (MLE) would be the likely outcome. Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, New York and Washington are all still in the mix, according to league sources, with Williams eligible to sign an offer sheet on July 6. The Celtics have 24 hours to match once the sheet is signed.
Boston’s ideal scenario would be a sign-and-trade and is reportedly seeking a first-round pick, which is crazy for a player of Williams caliber. He averaged 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting 39.5% from beyond the arc and provides a lot defensively, but a first-rounder for a team that doesn’t have many of them is too much.
He’s a restricted free agent after averaging 7.5 points, 3.2 boards, and 1.3 assists in the Eastern Conference Finals. Williams is a hustle player that could help the Hawks defensively and provide steady shooting from three-point range.
Given the financial ramifications of trading Collins, the Hawks have access to the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception — $12.4 million. The Celtics would have the opportunity to match any offer and would be fools not to.
If that’s the case, a deal is unlikely to come to fruition. The Hawks don’t have any salaries that line up that make sense for both sides and a first-rounder is far too rich for Grant Williams.
I like the idea of adding a player like Williams for his high motor, defensive pedigree, and ability to knock down threes, but at what cost? The MLE is a fine number, and the club could do much worse in a free agency period that has seen some wildly overpriced contracts handed out, but the Celtics hold all of the power and won’t let him go for nothing.