Grant Williams explains why NBA restricted free agency is a ‘terrible’ experience

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Grant Williams this offseason received a contract worth more than $50 million, but the new Dallas Mavericks forward called the process of restricted free agency “terrible.”

“Very difficult. Restricted free agency is terrible,” Williams said. “Unrestricted, you have a good understanding of where you want to go, but restricted, you’re pretty much in a waiting game.


“You want to make sure you understand what the offers are but also understand that teams might match or a team might be asking for more than another team is willing to give. It’s definitely an interesting process. I still think free agency is a little bit fun, but also a little bit nerve-wracking.”

It all seemed to work out in the end for Williams, who landed with Dallas from the Boston Celtics via a sign-and-trade, a popular method of changing NBA teams for restricted free agents. It allows the player to get a new contract while his old team is able to get something in return instead of losing him for nothing, like with unrestricted free agency.

The three-team deal involving Williams saw Dallas send Reggie Bullock to the San Antonio Spurs with Boston winding up with three future second-round draft picks. Dallas also got two future second-round picks while the Spurs got a future pick swap.

Williams’ defense helped the Celtics reach the NBA Finals in 2022 and Eastern Conference Finals in 2023. Boston played in 11 playoff series during Williams’ four seasons with the team.

The 24-year-old averaged a career-high 8.1 points per game last season, when he also topped his career-high with 23 starts. He has made about 40 percent of his 3-point attempts over the past two seasons and is recovering from surgery on his non-shooting hand.

Williams, who was selected No. 22 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, was eligible for restricted free agency as a former first-round pick who played four years on his first contract. Accepting a qualifying offer, a new contract or an offer sheet that can be matched are among the other options for someone in that situation. The sign-and-trade resulted in a four-year, $54 million contract for the University of Tennessee product.

The Celtics made one of the biggest moves of the NBA offseason when they acquired Kristaps Porzingis from the Washington Wizards in a three-team trade that sent Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Celtics reportedly also are expected to offer Jaylen Brown a supermax contract in the near future.

The Mavericks also made a big offseason move by re-signing Kyrie Irving to a three-year, $126 million deal after Luka Doncic reportedly pushed for Dallas to do so. Perhaps Williams’ experience can help get the Mavericks back to the playoffs after a very disappointing end to last season.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.