Rival big man confirms Hawks had interest in free agency

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks almost had a very different offseason.

Much of this offseason was spent cutting costs with John Collins traded to the Utah Jazz in just one (extreme) example of the measures taken. But they are also rumored to have pursued several other avenues that did not lead anywhere.

One of those rumored potential targets was forward Grant Williams who the Boston Celtics sign-and-traded to the Dallas Mavericks this offseason.

“I…got a good consistency on a couple teams when I first started to look in the market,” Williams told J.J. Redick on ‘The Old Man & The Three’ on July 21. “There was a bunch of options. But the ones who were probably most concrete were the Dallas of the world and maybe the Chicago, Atlanta, maybe New York.”

Williams stressed that Dallas was the most aggressive suitor from start to finish.

The 6-foot-6, 236-pound Williams averaged 8.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting 45.4% overall and 39.5% from beyond the arc this past season.


He spent the first four years of his career in Boston after being drafted No. 22 overall in 2022.

This offseason, Williams was one of 28 restricted free agents this summer with half already agreeing either to their respective qualifying offer or a new deal. Williams is the only one to change teams.

“Dallas was the first priority and then there were backups in a way because of how they were attacking the conversation,” Williams said. “I think the other teams were also pursuant and trying to work and get deals done. But I think Dallas was just overly aggressive on it and ended up working out.”

Williams received a new four-year, $53.3 million contract, the fourth-richest deal of the restricted free agent class.

Hawks’ interest in Grant Williams speaks volumes

That the Hawks had an interest in Williams is not especially noteworthy: he is an ascending player with ample playoff experience. But that he is not the only power forward that they have pursued, or even the best, could speak to their faith in their current options.

Both Saddiq Bey and Jalen Johnson bring different skill sets to the table.

Bey, 24, comes with far more experience than Johnson, 21, despite having just one more season under his belt with 229 total appearances and starting all 82 games in the regular season for the Detroit Pistons in 2021-22. The 6-foot-7, 215-pound Bey averaged 11.6 points, 4.8 boards, and 1.4 assists while shooting 40% from deep in 25 games with the Hawks.

He is also extension eligible this offseason.

Johnson – the No. 20 overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft – made 70 appearances last season, averaging 5.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.2 assists.

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However, all but six of them were off the bench and he made just 22 appearances as a rookie.