Robert Williams

Celtics Notes: Rivers, Brogdon, Tatum, Queta

Free agent guard Austin Rivers is interested in signing with the Celtics before the start of training camp, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Appearing on a podcast with Bill Simmons of The Ringer, Rivers revealed that he recently reached out to the team to see if there’s a spot open for him.

“I had a great talk with (president of basketball operations) Brad (Stevens) actually like a week ago,” Rivers said.

Boston may have a need for backcourt depth after sending Marcus Smart to Memphis in a three-team deal to acquire Kristaps Porzingis. Payton Pritchard expects to see more playing time, and the Celtics added free agents Svi Mykhailiuk and Dalano Banton, but there’s no one who can fill Smart’s role as a veteran leader.

“That’s why I called (Brad),” Rivers said. “I told him I’d love to be a part of the team. He said a lot of positive things. We’ll see if that’s something that will come to fruition. I’ve always loved Brad. I’ve always been a fan of him.”

The 31-year-old combo guard spent last season with the Timberwolves, averaging 4.9 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 52 games.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Any “bad feelings” that Malcolm Brogdon has toward the team aren’t related to his near inclusion in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN said on “NBA Today” (video link). She suggests the dispute is related to the “golfer’s elbow” injury that Brogdon suffered in the Eastern Conference Finals. Brogdon elected not to have surgery during the summer, and Shelburne indicated there are questions about when he’ll be available for the upcoming season.
  • With Smart gone, Jayson Tatum will spend more time running the offense this season, Shelburne adds in the same segment. She points out that Tatum frequently filled that role in the playoffs, averaging 5.3 assists in 20 postseason games. In a look at Boston’s projected starting lineup, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said he expects Al Horford to be in the middle alongside Tatum and Porzingis, with Robert Williams coming off the bench.
  • Paul Pierce tells Conor Ryan of The Boston Globe that Celtics assistant coach Sam Cassell got him involved in summer workouts with Tatum. Pierce attended numerous sessions with Tatum in Los Angeles, offering advice and joining him on the court. “He’s one of the top five players in the league, so it’s an honor to be there and see him go through his journey to see him get ready,” Pierce said. “I’m there really on some support, just to see his growth. He’s already at the top of the food chain, so I’m just part of being a support system.”
  • Neemias Queta‘s two-way deal with the Celtics covers only the 2023/24 season, Hoops Rumors has learned. Queta will be eligible for restricted free agency next summer if he plays out the contract.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Smart, White, Brogdon, Porzingis

Appearing at a PGA pro-am event Wednesday in Memphis, Jayson Tatum promised Grizzlies fans that they’re going to love having Marcus Smart on their team (video link from The Memphis Commercial Appeal).

After spending nine years with the Celtics, Smart was shipped to Memphis in a three-team trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis. Smart provided a fiery presence in Boston, both on and off the court, and Tatum said he’ll bring those same qualities to the Grizzlies.

“They’re getting a leader,” Tatum said. “They’re getting a guy who’s a winner, who’s been to the playoffs every year. We’ve been to the Finals together obviously, so he knows what it takes to get there. Obviously extremely talented, the best defender in the league. He’s just a guy that you love to have on your team.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • The Celtics addressed a major offseason priority when they signed Jaylen Brown to a super-max extension, but they have more extension decisions to make, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Around the start of October, Derrick White will be eligible for a three-year extension that could be worth up to $85.3MM. White is projected to take over as the starting point guard with Smart gone, and he’s coming off a second-team All-Defensive nod last season. If the Celtics want to extend White this year, they’ll have until opening night to finalize a deal with the veteran guard, who has two more years on his current contract. Malcolm Brogdon will also become extension-eligible, Himmelsbach notes, but he believes a new contract is less likely considering Brogdon’s age and injury history, along with the six-month trade trade restriction that comes with an extension.
  • Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck is a supporter of the new mid-season tournament and hopes his team can reach the finals in Las Vegas, Himmelsbach adds. “I’m a big international soccer fan, and I see they’ve got three trophies they can go for every year,” Grousbeck said. “So I’m already looking forward to it. I like having something new for guys to play for during the fall and give fans something to watch. Let’s see how it goes.”
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic looks at the lineup options that Porzingis will provide for head coach Joe Mazzulla. The Celtics will have a much taller starting five and can experiment with a twin towers approach with Porzingis playing alongside Robert Williams. Weiss also envisions Porzingis and Tatum being effective with the second unit while Brown is resting.

Atlantic Notes: Rajakovic, Randle, R. Williams

In a fascinating profile, Eric Koreen of The Athletic details Darko Rajakovic‘s journey to becoming the Raptors‘ new head coach.

Rajakovic got his NBA start thanks to his relationship with Thunder executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti, first in the then-D-League and later with Oklahoma City. Presti met Rajakovic in Europe as a young executive with the Spurs, and was impressed by his attention to detail, passion and work ethic, Koreen writes.

He’s fought himself all the way to this point,” Presti said. “I think there is a level of toughness that comes with that, to work that path the way that he did, to get to the point where he’s the head coach of an NBA team. I don’t know how you can’t respect that and also be extremely happy for him.”

As Koreen notes, one of Rajakovic’s strengths is his adaptability, which should come in handy with Toronto’s roster in a somewhat precarious position entering 2023/24. It’s an excellent article and I highly recommend it for those who subscribe to The Athletic.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Left ankle problems plagued Julius Randle to end last season, but the Knicks‘ All-NBA forward believes undergoing arthroscopic surgery a couple months ago may have been a blessing in disguise, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News relays. “Me and my trainer were just talking about this, we were talking about prime years,” Randle said Wednesday as a guest on The Shop Uninterrupted. “And I feel like your prime is when your mental and physical kind of meet. And physically I feel like this is going to be my best year. But mentally I feel like I’ve taken a tremendous step because I’ve had to slow all the way down. I wasn’t allowed to train.” Randle also said he drew inspiration from teammate Jalen Brunson due to the point guard’s diligence and focus, per Bondy.
  • What’s next for Robert Williams following the arrival of Kristaps Porzingis? The Celtics big man needs to become more aggressive offensively, dribble more often, and add a short-range jump shot to keep opposing defenses honest, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Of course, the biggest question mark surrounding Williams might not be his on-court play but rather his health, given that he has appeared in just 209 regular season games over his five NBA seasons, including 35 in ’23/24.
  • In case you missed it, the Knicks, Raptors and Celtics all officially made roster moves on Tuesday.

Celtics Notes: Brogdon, Williams, Brown, Champagnie

The Celtics are turning away trade inquiries on Malcolm Brogdon, according to Steve Bulpett of A source from a rival organization told Bulpett that his club wasn’t able to make any progress when it called Boston about Brogdon.

“They said he’s a valued member of their team, and that’s where it ended,” the team official said. “I don’t know if that changes down the line, but we didn’t get anywhere. And I’m pretty sure we aren’t the only team that got that response.”

Brogdon captured Sixth Man of the Year honors in his first season with the Celtics, but they were willing to consider sending him to the Clippers in an early version of the Kristaps Porzingis trade. L.A. pulled out of the deal because of medical concerns over Brogdon, who suffered a right elbow and forearm injury in the conference finals, so the Boston traded Marcus Smart to Memphis instead. With Smart gone, Celtics officials are less willing to part with another important part of their backcourt.

“They didn’t want to move him in the first place,” another source said to Bulpett. “They really like Malcolm. But they had to balance out their roster. They didn’t want to go into another season having to rely so heavily on (Robert) Williams and (Al) Horford. They had a bit of a logjam in the backcourt, and they really needed some insurance up front.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Williams is working to expand his offensive game this summer, and the Celtics want him to be more aggressive about seeking his own shots, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. After missing 47 games last season, Williams is following a program designed by the team’s director of rehabilitation to give him a better chance at staying on the court.
  • The Celtics are expected to resume contract talks next week with Jaylen Brown, who recently returned from an NBPA retreat in Spain, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. President of basketball operations Brad Stevens expressed optimism about working out an extension with Brown, who is eligible for a five-year super-max contract worth an estimated $295MM, but negotiations have been on hold while Brown, a union vice president, was out of the country.
  • Stevens faces an upcoming decision involving Justin Champagnie, who has a $50K guarantee on his contract if he remains on the roster through August 1, notes Brian Robb of MassLive. That guarantee increases to $350K on opening night, and Robb points out that either figure will cost the team much more due to luxury tax penalties.

Celtics Rumors: G. Williams, Brogdon, Brown, Banton, Lillard

When the Celtics struck a deal to acquire Kristaps Porzingis last month, Grant Williams recognized that there might not be as significant a role for him in Boston’s frontcourt if he were to re-sign with the team as a restricted free agent. However, he liked the trade for the Celtics, as he told Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

“With the (Porzingis) news, I was excited about it ’cause even if they did end up matching me, I would probably be playing less but my whole thing is about winning,” he said.

Still, Williams recognized that the addition of Porzingis’ salary made it less likely that the Celtics would be willing to spend to keep him when he reached restricted free agency. According to Weiss, the forward had a more competitive market when free agency opened last week, but the Celtics were asking for a first-round pick in sign-and-trade talks, which caused some potential suitors to move on.

“I had an understanding of that most of the way. I know how the numbers work out and yeah, they could have afforded to keep me,” Williams said of the Celtics. “But it’s one of those things where you’re really committing and after the prior year, I didn’t think it was realistic. Hey, Boston was trying to maintain their leverage. It’s one of those where you can’t be mad at them for it because it just shows they want you to be there in a way.”

With Williams’ market drying up, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe heard from a source as late as Wednesday afternoon that a return to the Celtics was still a possibility, but the Mavericks increased their push for the forward and Brad Stevens was amenable to sending the 24-year-old somewhere he’d get to play more. That led to a three-team sign-and-trade agreement that will send Williams to Dallas.

Here’s more on what’s next for the Celtics:

  • A league source tells Himmelsbach that the Celtics remain intent on bringing back Malcolm Brogdon after discussing him in trade talks earlier in the offseason. Himmelsbach’s source adds that Jaylen Brown‘s super-max extension should be finalized “in the coming days.”
  • Dalano Banton, who agreed to sign a two-year contract with Boston, is expected to join the team’s Las Vegas Summer League roster, tweets Himmelsbach.
  • Echoing an earlier report from Chris Haynes that said the Celtics were among the teams to reach out to the Trail Blazers to inquire about the price for Damian Lillard, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne stated on NBA Today (YouTube link) that Boston has “expressed some interest” in the star guard. Shelburne and ESPN colleague Zach Lowe stressed that the Celtics are not on Lillard’s wish list, but point out that a package of Brogdon, Robert Williams, and several first-round picks and swaps could be compelling. The C’s have given San Antonio first-round swap rights in 2028, but their future first-rounders are otherwise unencumbered.
  • A Celtics star forward would be in favor of a deal for Lillard, ESPN’s Marc J. Spears said during a TV appearance over the weekend. “I’m hearing Jayson Tatum is knocking on that door now too to figure out a way to get (Lillard) to come to Boston,” Spears said, according to Brian Robb of

Celtics Notes: Mazzulla, Brown, Brogdon, G. Williams

Joe Mazzulla‘s ascension to head coach after Ime Udoka’s suspension led to disagreements between the coaching staff and several of the Celtics‘ stars over the team’s style of play, according to Jay King and Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Boston was coming off an NBA Finals run under Udoka built around a suffocating defense, and many players wanted to continue that philosophy. Mazzulla placed more emphasis on the offense and frequently relied on smaller lineups, using Derrick White as a starter even when Robert Williams was healthy.

Although Mazzulla generally had the support of his players, who recognized that he was in a difficult situation, one source tells the authors that the team “just lost focus” after the All-Star Game, going 7-6 in its first 13 games following the break. Some veterans wondered why Mazzulla went away from Grant Williams, whose playing time was cut in March. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown met with Mazzulla to implore him to put Grant Williams back in the rotation, sources tell King and Weiss.

Complaints about Mazzulla’s emphasis on offense continued into the playoffs, the authors add. Some players said they left timeouts unsure of the defensive coverages, and that Blake Griffin, Marcus Smart, Grant Williams and others would work things out at the last minute.

Even amid the chaos, players publicly remained supportive of Mazzulla after the Game 7 loss to Miami.

“I don’t think people give (Mazzulla) or us enough credit that, two days before (the) season starts, we find out we’re going to have a new coach,” Tatum said. “We didn’t have Rob the first 25, 30 games of the season, we never got a chance to have (Danilo Gallinari), and we got a new coach one day before media day. You know, that was an adjustment. We all figured it out. Obviously, we wanted to win the championship. Didn’t happen. But I think Joe did a great job. We won 50-some-odd games. We got to (Game 7 of the) conference finals. Obviously, everybody can be better, learn from this. But I think Joe did a great job this year.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Among the reasons Mazzulla is likely to return as head coach next season is his contract, which still has $14MM remaining in guaranteed money, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Charania expects Mazzulla to be given the chance to build his coaching staff this summer.
  • Brown didn’t talk much about his future after Game 7, but Tatum said it’s “extremely important” that he remains on the team, per Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. There has been speculation that the Celtics may explore trade options after Brown qualified for a super-max contract by earning All-NBA honors. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his Hoop Collective podcast that he would be “stunned” if Boston doesn’t reach a new agreement with Brown (hat tip to Joseph Zucker of Bleacher Report).
  • Either White, Smart or Malcolm Brogdon is likely to be moved this offseason to ease the financial crunch, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, who believes Brogdon could be the top trade asset despite his large salary. That savings could be used to keep Grant Williams, a restricted free agent, Forsberg adds.

Celtics Notes: Brown, Tatum, White, Williams, Brogdon

Following a disappointing Game 7 loss to the Heat on Monday, the Celtics face some significant offseason decisions, writes Sopan Deb of The New York Times. Jaylen Brown‘s contract situation looms largest among those decisions, as his All-NBA berth this spring made him eligible for a super-max extension.

Boston will have to decide whether to put that offer – which could be worth nearly approximately $295MM over five years – on the table for Brown, who will be entering the final year of his current deal in 2023/24. While he didn’t specifically address the financial details of a potential Celtics offer, Brown’s co-star Jayson Tatum said after Monday’s loss that it’s crucial the team locks up Brown beyond next season.

“He’s one of the best players in this league,” Tatum said. “He plays both ends of the ball and still is relatively young. And he’s accomplished a lot so far in his career. So, I think it’s extremely important.”

For his part, Brown wasn’t ready to address his contract situation in the wake of Monday’s loss.

“I don’t even really know how to answer that question right now, to be honest,” Brown said, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “My thought process is take it one day at a time, focus on getting better. Focus on what the future holds and see where we are from there.”

Here’s more on the Celtics after they fell short of their second consecutive NBA Finals appearance:

  • Tatum sprained his ankle during the first minute of Game 7 on Monday. Although he remained in the game, Tatum admitted after scoring just 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting that he was “a shell of myself,” per Bontemps. “It was tough to move,” Tatum said. “Just frustrating, it happening on the first play.”
  • Game 6 hero Derrick White will undergo an MRI on his left leg, which he injured in the second half of Game 7, writes Bontemps. “I mean, I’ll be fine,” White said. “I’m not too worried about it. But I’ll find out more (on Tuesday).”
  • Despite the disappointing end to their season, the Celtics raved on Monday about how the locker room stuck together after the team fell behind 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami. As Jay King of The Athletic writes, Brown referred to it as “one of the most together groups that we’ve had,” while head coach Joe Mazzulla said it was “one of the best locker rooms” he has been a part of. “Obviously, we didn’t achieve our goal; we didn’t win, which was our goal,” Mazzulla said. “So, we failed in that regard, but it’s not because the guys didn’t have a sense of togetherness, character and just who they are as people.”
  • Robert Williams, who played just 14 minutes in Game 7, was battling an illness on Monday, a league source tells Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Weiss observes within the same story that Malcolm Brogdon was “clearly too injured to play” on Monday after missing Game 6 due to a forearm injury. Brogdon, a minus-15 in just seven minutes in Game 7, confirmed that he has a partially torn tendon in his right elbow and said he’d consider undergoing offseason surgery (Twitter link via Weiss).
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype and ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) previewed the offseason decisions facing the Celtics, including how to handle Grant Williams‘ impending restricted free agency.

Celtics Notes: R. Williams, Horford, White, G. Williams, Tatum

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla turned around the series with the Sixers by inserting Robert Williams in the starting lineup alongside Al Horford, but that pairing hasn’t been effective against Miami, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. In the 14 minutes that they’ve played together in the conference finals, Williams and Horford are getting outscored by 51.6 points per 100 possessions, which has made a difference in two close losses.

With the two big men on the floor together, Jimmy Butler has searched for opportunities to draw Williams away from the basket, Himmelsbach adds, and Horford has been outplayed by Bam Adebayo. After Game 1, Mazzulla was hesitant when asked whether he planned to stick with the two-big lineup, but they were both starters again Friday night. However, they played less than five minutes together as Mazzulla didn’t go back to that lineup after the Heat took an early lead.

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Himmelsbach’s recommendation for Game 3 is to put Derrick White in the starting lineup and give him more minutes in general. He notes that White is an All-Defensive Team selection who blocked two shots by Butler in Game 2. He makes Boston a better shooting team as well, hitting 6-of-10 three-point attempts in the series. White played just 23 minutes on Friday and hasn’t topped that figure in the Celtics’ last four games.
  • Mazzulla isn’t upset about Grant Williamstrash-talking incident with Butler in the fourth quarter Friday, even though Butler responded by leading Miami’s game-winning rally, per Brian Robb of MassLive. The exchange overshadowed a nice bounce-back performance from Williams, who made 4-of-6 shots after not being used in the series opener. “I mean, he didn’t do anything wrong necessarily,” Mazzulla said. “So, I don’t think it’s emotions getting the best of him.”
  • The Celtics’ biggest concern is the continued lack of production late in games from Jayson Tatum, observes Matt Vautour of MassLive. Tatum didn’t make a shot from the floor in the fourth quarter of Game 1 or 2, leaving his teammates to try to carry the scoring load.

And-Ones: Trade Market, Front Offices, Coaches, EuroLeague, More

Tonight’s NBA draft lottery is highly anticipated due to the hype surrounding projected No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. However, some league executives are more focused on the trade implications for the team that lands the top selection, noting that quality centers could be dealt to free up playing time and address other parts of the roster.

I’m as interested in what comes after the lottery as the lottery itself,” one general manager told Sean Deveney of “This could be a tidal wave after it gets decided.”

For example, if the Pistons land the top pick — which they have a 14% chance to do — an Eastern Conference executive speculated that Detroit could get an impressive return for Jalen Duren, who was recently named to the All-Rookie Second Team. However, it’s worth noting that the Pistons have shown no desire to move Duren to this point after trading for him during last June’s draft.

They probably could get a top-10 pick for him this year,” the executive said. “He has a lot of Robert Williams qualities, and he is like Williams because it might take a little time to polish. You can’t really play him and Wemby together, so he’d have to go. It would be crazy to see the market on him, he is still mostly upside.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Twenty-six clubs have been eliminated from title contention, but that doesn’t mean anyone is taking time off. In an interesting article for The Athletic, former league executives Seth Partnow and John Hollinger discuss the busiest time of the year for NBA front offices — the stretch that starts with the draft combine, which is currently ongoing, and runs through the first couple weeks of free agency.
  • Three of the past four championship-winning coaches are no longer with their former teams. The recent spate of dismissals — including Nick Nurse, Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams and Doc Rivers — has left a negative imprint on some of the longest-tenured coaches, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes. “It’s disturbing,” said Erik Spoelstra, who has been the Heat’s head coach since 2008. “Doc’s a Hall of Famer. … There’s only so many teams that can advance. It’s just a really hard thing to do. Yeah, it’s been a tough couple weeks, hearing the news of just some really surprising firings.”
  • The All-EuroLeague First and Second Teams were recently announced (Twitter links), and several former NBA players made the cut. The First Team features Walter Tavares, Mathias Lessort, Lorenzo Brown, Sasha Vezenkov and Dzanan Musa, while Darius Thompson, Kevin Punter, Nikola Mirotic, Wade Baldwin and Mike James comprise the Second Team. A recent rumor indicated that Vezenkov, whose NBA rights are controlled by the Kings, is seriously mulling the possibility of coming stateside and making his debut next season.
  • Leonard Solms at profiles Samkelo Cele, who is hoping to become the second South African-born player to reach the NBA (the first was Steve Nash). Cele is currently competing in the Basketball Africa League.

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Quickley, Raptors, R. Williams, Harris

There was a general perception that the Knicks may have overpaid point guard Jalen Brunson last summer when they signed him to a four-year, $104MM contract. Instead, he has been outperforming his nine-figure deal to an extent that’s rare for New York sports stars, according to Howie Kussoy of The New York Post (subscriber link).

Kussoy points to the contracts signed by various players across the four major North American sports leagues as examples, writing that most haven’t lived up to the lofty expectations of their enormous paydays.

Brunson, meanwhile, had an All-Star-caliber debut season with New York and has been the Knicks’ best player in the playoffs, averaging 26.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.5 steals on .457/.300/.915 shooting through 10 games (39.8 minutes). Kussoy states that Brunson has the “inside track” on becoming the best free agent addition in team history.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Knicks reserve Immanuel Quickley has been ruled out of Friday’s Game 6 in Miami, head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters, including Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link). The third-year guard is still battling a left ankle sprain and had previously been listed as doubtful. Quickley will miss his third straight game with the injury.
  • The 2023 free agent class isn’t the strongest, particularly the group of players who might be available for the Raptors‘ mid-level exception or less, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who lists 25 players Toronto could target. Among the top candidates Koreen considers realistic are Bruce Brown, Donte DiVincenzo, Nickeil Alexander-Walker (for part of the MLE, not full) and Josh Richardson. Brown and DiVincenzo hold team-friendly player options for 2023/24, while Alexander-Walker will be restricted if Minnesota gives him a qualifying offer — only Richardson is an unrestricted free agent at the moment.
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart was thrilled with head coach Joe Mazzulla‘s adjustment of inserting Robert Williams into the starting lineup for Game 6, per Jamal Collier of ESPN. “I was ecstatic about it,” Smart said. “To have Rob in there, he changes the game a lot … that just goes to show you, Joe is learning. Just like all of us. I know he’s been killed a lot. Rightfully so. He needs to make some adjustments, and he did that. And that’s all you can ask for, just continue to be the best he can be. It takes everybody; it’s a full team effort.” Williams recorded 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, and the Celtics were plus-18 in his 28 minutes.
  • It was reported in April that Sixers owner Josh Harris had reached an agreement to buy the NFL’s Washington Commanders. Harris and the team released a joint statement on Friday officially announcing the sale, as Sam Robinson of Pro Football Rumors relays. The agreement still has to be approved by the other NFL owners, but that’s considered a formality.