Add Robert Williams' contract situation to the long list of challenges for Brad Stevens in his first few months as Boston Celtics general manager.
Williams made the most of every minute on the court this season. Averaging 18.9 minutes in 52 games played, the Celtics big man notched career-highs in points per game (8.0), rebounds (6.9), blocks (1.8), and assists (1.8).
While injuries continue to be a concern, Williams showed his lofty potential as he enters the final year of his rookie contract and may have earned himself an extension this offseason. Before that can happen, there are a number of variables with Williams' situation that Stevens and the C's must consider.
ESPN NBA Front Office Insider and former Brooklyn Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks joined Chris Forsberg on a recent episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast to share his perspective.
"The rookie extension is the hardest contract you could negotiate," Marks said. "You're not bidding against anybody else, so it's like salary arbitration where you basically have a deadline the day before the start of the regular season. That is the only deadline at all. I was looking at numbers, there's only been seven players since 2018 who have been picked past pick No. 20 who have been extended.
"Extensions are based on upside. ... So, if you go by the body of work of Robert Williams for three years, it says, 'I want to see a little bit more.' I want to see a player that's healthy. I want to see him on the court for 70 games. I want to see him in a starter role for a whole year. ... The beauty of it is that Brad [Stevens] has had him for three years and knows what his upside is, knows what he still needs to work on, knows what his strengths are."
Marks adds that many of the questions Stevens and the Celtics will have to answer when it comes to Williams relate to the team's long-term financial situation.
"How does the 2022, 2023 finances impact a Robert Williams extension? Are you comfortable Kemba's number might be off your books by then? Are you comfortable paying the luxury tax for a second year?" Marks asked. "Eventually we're going to get another infusion of national TV money. So by like, 2023, '24, in that area, this cap is going to go up again. And eventually, in Year 2 of that Robert Williams extension or Year 3, paying him $17 million a year might be kind of like a team-friendly contract now because the cap's going to go up.
"If he's part of your future and you think his upside is high, you don't need to go out and pay him $25 million, but there's got to be some kind of compromise there."