Robert Williams

And-Ones: 2020 Draft, Powell, Trade Market, Reed

A trio of guards — Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and North Carolina’s Cole Anthony — top The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie’s latest draft board. Another guard, 18-year-old Killian Hayes, made the biggest move among the top 20 prospects. Hayes, who is playing in Europe, jumped from No. 16 to No. 7.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The Nuggets’ Malik Beasley, the Spurs’ Lonnie Walker and the Celtics’ Robert Williams are among five buy-low trade targets for teams seeking to fortify their benches, according to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz.
  • Dwight Powell‘s season-ending Achilles injury was not only a major setback for the Mavericks but also Team Canada, Michael Grange of SportsNet Canada notes. Powell was expected to be a foundation piece for Canada’s Olympic push and his size, smarts, and athleticism will be hard to replace, according to Grange.
  • Veteran center Willie Reed has signed with the G League and returned to the Salt Lake City Stars, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. Reed, 29, was playing in Greece but parted ways with Olympiacos earlier this month.

Injury Updates: R. Jackson, Hachimura, Wagner, R. Williams

Pistons guard Reggie Jackson hopes to play tonight after being sidelined since the second game of the season with a back injury, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Jackson is officially listed as questionable for the game against the Kings. He’ll be on a minutes restriction and isn’t sure if he’ll be used as a starter or a reserve (Twitter link).

“I don’t know how well I’m going to feel. Adrenaline is a different thing so I imagine I’ll probably be winded a little early,” Jackson said (Twitter link).

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura has been cleared for all basketball activities, head coach Scott Brooks told reporters, including Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link). Hachimura hasn’t played since suffering a groin injury December 16. “It’ll be great to have him back before the All-Star break, but you never know,” Brooks said (Twitter link).
  • The Wizards also got good news on Moritz Wagner, who has been cleared for non-contact activities after a check-up in New York City, Buckner tweets. Wagner has missed the past month with a sprained left ankle.
  • Injured Celtics center Robert Williams was able to do some running Tuesday and is set for another scan and evaluation February 4, the team tweeted. Team doctors expect to have a more concrete idea of when he can start playing again after that session. Williams has a bone edema in his left hip and won’t return until after the All-Star break.
  • Cavaliers center Ante Zizic is out indefinitely, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. He has been diagnosed with a vestibular condition that has forced him to miss the past five games.
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters that among his injured rotation players, Gary Harris is the closest to returning, relays Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). “When I say closest, I don’t know how close that is,” Malone explained.Paul (Millsap) and Jamal (Murray) are still a ways off.”

Robert Williams Won’t Return Before All-Star Break

Celtics center Robert Williams, who has been sidelined for about a month because of a bone edema in his left hip, will remain out of action until after the All-Star break, according to a tweet from the team.

Coach Brad Stevens explained that Williams is undergoing a three- to four-week “workup program” that began at the start of January. His condition will be re-evaluated once he completes that program, but Stevens doesn’t expect him back before the break, which stretches from February 13-20.

Williams has been limited to 19 games this season, averaging 3.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in about 14 minutes per night. He played 32 games last year as a rookie, but spent much of the season in the G League.

Atlantic Notes: RHJ, TLC, R. Williams, Sixers

Due to the continued injury absences of Norman Powell, Marc Gasol and Pascal Siakam, defensive-oriented forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been used more frequently as a big-man passing alternative to the Raptors’ point guard stable, notes Michael Grange of Rogers SportsNet.

“I love doing it,” Hollis-Jefferson said of his expanded role as a passer once defenses key in on Raptors guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. “Growing up in high school and college, even some in Brooklyn, just made plays with the ball whether that was bringing it up or whether that was catching it at the high post.”

When Toronto signed Hollis-Jefferson to a one-year, $2.5MM contract this summer, he was not anticipating being used extensively on offense. Laura Armstrong of the Toronto Star notes that Raptors coach Nick Nurse has been tactical about shifting around his rotation to adjust to opposing teams. This has forced players like Hollis-Jefferson and OG Anunoby to remain primed for starter minutes, though Nurse sometimes favors one over the other.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets wing Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is getting close to reaching the 45-day limit two-way players can spend with an NBA team, the New York Post’s Brian Lewis hears from YES Network and Fox Sports television analyst Sarah Kustok (Twitter link). The Nets will have to make a determination on whether or not they convert Luwawu-Cabarrot to a standard NBA contract. In 12 games with Brooklyn, Luwawu-Cabarrot has averaged 4.9 PPG and 2.2 RPG, while shooting 76.5% from the free-throw line and 37% from deep.
  • Celtics head coach Brad Stevens noted that doctors are encouraged by the latest MRI scanning the injured hip of center Robert Williams, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reports (Twitter link). Stevens says that Williams will meet with a specialist after Boston’s road trip concludes tomorrow against the Wizards. “Tuesday I’m going to see somebody to get the final word,” Williams said, “but that was good news for me” (Twitter link).
  • The reeling Sixers, losers of four straight games, will look for perimeter help at the trade deadline, sources tell ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. The team will prioritize shooting wings with ball-handling skills. Philadelphia, currently 23-14 in the East, made just six of their three-point 27 attempts in a loss to the Rockets Friday night.

Injury Updates: Russell, Bagley, Bledsoe, Smart

The Warriors got a scare tonight involving D’Angelo Russell, who remained on the ground for about five minutes after colliding with the MavericksLuka Doncic while chasing a loose ball, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic (video link).

A stretcher was brought out, but Russell was eventually able to walk off under his own power. After being checked in the locker room, he was diagnosed with a right shoulder contusion, according to Kerith Burke of NBC Sports (Twitter link), and eventually re-entered the game.

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Kings forward Marvin Bagley III has a mid-foot sprain and will miss the “next few games,” according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Bagley left Thursday’s game in the third quarter after suffering the injury. He had an MRI on Friday and met with a foot specialist today before details of his condition were announced.
  • Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe continues to recover from a fibula avulsion fracture and is nearing a return to the court, coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters before tonight’s game (video link from the team). Bledsoe may go through contact drills tomorrow in hopes of playing next week. “He’s making progress and getting close,” Budenholzer said.
  • The Celtics got Marcus Smart back tonight after an eight-game absence caused by an infection in both of his eyes, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.
  • Celtics center Robert Williams will undergo another MRI in about a week to monitor the healing of a bone edema in his left hip, Blakely adds (Twitter link). He hasn’t been able to do any basketball-related activities since the injury was discovered nearly two weeks ago.

Celtics’ Robert Williams Out At Least Three Weeks

Celtics big man Robert Williams has been diagnosed with a bone edema in his left hip, the team announced today (via Twitter). Williams will have to limit his basketball activities while the injury heals and will be re-evaluated in three weeks, according to the C’s.

Williams, who appeared in just 32 games last season as a rookie, had been a more consistent part of Boston’s rotation so far in 2019/20. He has appeared in 19 games, averaging 3.9 PPG and 4.6 RPG with a .673 FG% in 14.2 minutes per contest.

With Williams sidelined into the new year, the Celtics will lean more heavily on centers Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis. Semi Ojeleye has also seen a bump in minutes as of late and will likely continue to have a significant role with Williams on the shelf.

Celtics Pick Up 2020/21 Options On Tatum, Williams

OCTOBER 30, 9:40pm: As expected, the Celtics have now picked up Williams’ option, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

OCTOBER 14, 5:00pm: RealGM’s official transactions log lists the Celtics as having exercised Tatum’s option, but not Williams’. While I’d still expect Time Lord’s option to be picked up, it hasn’t happened yet. Boston has until October 31 to make its decision.

OCTOBER 14, 2:58pm: The Celtics have exercised their fourth-year option on former No. 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Boston has also picked up its third-year option on 2018 first-rounder Robert Williams, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Both options are for the 2020/21 season, with Tatum’s cap hit ($9,897,120) significantly outweighing Williams’ ($2,029,920). Tatum will now be eligible for a contract extension in 2020 and would be on track for restricted free agency in 2021 if he doesn’t sign a new deal next year. Williams has one more year on his rookie contract in 2021/22 — the C’s will have to make a decision on that option by October 31 next year.

Both Tatum and Williams could take on more responsibilities in 2019/20 after a handful of veterans left the Celtics over the summer. Tatum, in particular, figures to be leaned on more heavily as an offensive play-maker with Kyrie Irving no longer in the mix, as the Celtics hope the 21-year-old can take another leap after an up-and-down performance last season.

Williams, meanwhile, will play a more modest role, but Boston’s frontcourt situation is unsettled now that Al Horford, Aron Baynes, and Marcus Morris are playing for new teams. There could be regular minutes available for the former Texas A&M standout going forward.

With the October 31 deadline nearing, we’re tracking all of the 2020/21 rookie scale option decisions from around the NBA right here.

Celtics Notes: Theis, Strus, Langford, Williams

Daniel Theis is making a strong case to start at center for the Celtics, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports.

Theis, who has only started five of the 129 regular season games he’s played with Boston over the past two seasons, has more experience in Brad Stevens’ system than any other big man on the roster. That could give him an edge over Enes Kanter and Robert Williams. He’s also adept at making defensive switches.

“If you watch closely, that’s a tied-together group on that end of the court,” Stevens said of playing Theis with the other starters. Theis is making $5MM this season but his $5MM salary for 2020/21 is not guaranteed.

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Max Strus is a serious candidate to get the 15th and final spot on the opening night roster, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets.  The shooting guard just had his two-way contract converted to a standard two-year deal with a partial guarantee. The guarantee is worth $415K, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. However, he could still be waived, Murphy adds. The 23-year-old Strus went undrafted after playing his college ball at DePaul.
  • Stevens offers high praise for his first-year players, including Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Tacko Fall, and Carsen Edwards, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets“That’s as good of a group of rookie workers that I’ve ever been around …those guys grind,” he said.
  • The team has picked up the 2020/21 options on Jayson Tatum and Williams. Get all the details here.

Danny Ainge On Celtics: “Are We Good Enough?”

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge admits the team’s talent level will be a greater concern this year, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. The Celtics entered last season as clear favorites to win the East, but expectations are lower now that Kyrie Irving and Al Horford both left in free agency.

“I think that last year’s questions were more based on how is it going to jell? There was not a question of how much talent we had,” Ainge said to reporters before today’s open practice. “This year, the question is, are we good enough? And can players step up and take advantage of the opportunities that they’re given to become more elite?”

Signing Kemba Walker helped to ease the loss of Irving, and Enes Kanter will likely take over in the middle. Ainge said he’s encouraged by the early results from training camp as the players work to erase the memory of last year’s disappointment.

Ainge addressed several other topics in the session with the media:

On Gordon Hayward‘s progress nearly two full years after a severe ankle injury:

“I think, right now, there’s been a lot of buzz about Gordon and his comeback and I’m worried that it’s getting a little out of hand. Like, I think he’s Gordon. He’s back to being Gordon. And we’re very excited about that. I sometimes worry, like, ‘Oh my gosh, they think it’s somebody else.’ But I’m excited about Gordon. I’m excited about Kemba. Jaylen [Brown] and Jayson [Tatum] had really good summers. They’ve looked really good in training camp. Obviously they have a great comfort level with the system. And Marcus [Smart]. So, we know who all of those guys are. I think there are lots of questions in lots of other places on the roster.”

On coach Brad Stevens’ status after the team failed to meet last year’s lofty expectations:

“If 49 wins is the worst season in your coaching career, you’re probably going to be OK. But Brad just keeps getting better. These experiences, he’s a young coach, works harder than anybody, very bright. I have all the confidence in the world that last year was a learning experience for him, just like all of our young players. Like I said many many times before and I’ll continue to say, he’s the least of our worries. He’s prepared, and I think these experiences are going to make him a great coach.”

On the competition at center without Horford and Aron Baynes:

“Most of [the bigs] are new. I think Daniel [Theis] has the most experience of that group of guys with our group. I think he’s got a little bit of a head start, just mentally and emotionally and understanding what Brad wants. I think I can see some of the new-ness of the other guys. I think Robert [Williams] has taken big strides from last year to where he’s at. I think his work this summer, you can see it already. So that’s an advantage for him. Those are question marks that I’m not sure how good it’s all going to fit and work but I think, individually, they all can contribute.”

Atlantic Notes: Stevens, Feaster, Donaldson, Ainge

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens will have a new-look roster to work with this season, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, and while replacing All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving with fellow All-Star Kemba Walker will be the easy part, replacing defensive stalwarts Al Horford and Aron Baynes should prove a bit more challenging.

Another question is who starts — Gordon Hayward or Jaylen Brown? Do both of them start, with Marcus Smart back on the bench? According to Stevens, it really doesn’t matter, as long as the lineups mesh together.

“We’re obviously going to have to figure out lineups that work best together,” Stevens said. “Everybody is going to make a big deal over who starts, but we all know who the five guys are that are going to play the very most on our team, and everybody can probably write that down right now, and then it’s a matter of who fits best. They’re not all in the same position, but we’ve got to figure out who’s going to play the big spot and with which groups.”

Enes Kanter figures to get most minutes at center starting out, but young big Robert Williams could push for more playing time as the season progresses. The Celtics will also rely on Daniel Theis and Vincent Poirier for frontcourt depth.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • According to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, the Celtics have hired Allison Feaster as director of player development. Feaster is a former WNBA player and Harvard graduate who also worked in the G League.
  • Raptors data analyst Brittni Donaldson has been promoted to an assistant coach on the staff of head coach Nick Nurse, per a tweet from Stadium (Twitter link).
  • In a piece for NBC Sports Boston, Blakely writes that Danny Ainge is concerned with Stevens happiness this season, saying “My biggest concern through all of this was, I want my coach to be happy who he’s coaching and that’s the hardest job. I’ve been at this business a long time. It’s…you gotta have fun. You really have to have joy. That doesn’t mean every minute is going to be happy. Everybody is going to face adversity and challenges and trials through the course of a season. But, it still has to be fun.”