Robert Williams

Celtics Expect Robert Williams To Miss 8-12 Weeks Following Knee Procedure

Celtics big man Robert Williams has undergone an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from his left knee and to address swelling in that knee, the team announced today (Twitter link).

While the surgery had been expected, the Celtics revealed that the recovery timeline will be longer than initially anticipated. According to the club, Williams is expected to resume basketball activities in approximately eight-to-12 weeks. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski previously estimated a four-to-six week timetable.

Williams enjoyed a breakout season in 2021/22, establishing new career highs in PPG (10.0), RPG (9.6), BPG (2.2), games played and started (61), field goal percentage (73.6%), and several other categories. He also helped anchor the NBA’s top defense.

Williams initially underwent surgery on the knee in March after tearing his meniscus. He was able to return to the court less than a month later and played a part in the Celtics’ run to the NBA Finals, though he wasn’t at 100% in the postseason. The 24-year-old sat out five games in the second and third rounds of the playoffs and reportedly required extensive treatment as he dealt with fluid build-up.

The decision was made this fall for Williams to undergo another procedure when he began his ramp-up process and experienced some discomfort in the knee. Based on the timeline announced today by the Celtics, it sounds like he’ll miss at least the first month or two of the regular season.

In Williams’ absence, Boston will lean on big men Al Horford and Grant Williams, with others like Luke Kornet, Noah Vonleh, Mfiondu Kabengele, and Luka Samanic vying for roster spots and playing time.

The Celtics also confirmed today (via Twitter) that Danilo Gallinari underwent surgery to repair his torn left ACL. They didn’t announce a projected recovery timeline for the forward, but the expectation is that he’ll miss most or all of the 2022/23 season.

Atlantic Notes: Grimes, Toppin, Celtics, Warren

Second-year guard Quentin Grimes could replace Evan Fournier in the Knicks‘ starting lineup, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. When New York signed Jalen Brunson this summer, there were concerns that he and Fournier might not provide enough defense as a backcourt combination.

Begley states that starting Grimes as the shooting guard and having Fournier come off the bench was among several scenarios discussed by Knicks management this summer. Another option the team considered is moving RJ Barrett into the backcourt and giving Cam Reddish a chance to start at small forward.

Although Fournier would be an expensive reserve, Begley doesn’t believe New York should try to trade him. Begley notes that the Knicks need all the shooters they can get, which is why they signed Svi Mykhailiuk earlier this week.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Members of the Knicks‘ coaching staff believe Obi Toppin could see an increased role, Begley adds in the same piece. Toppin showed progress during his second NBA season and could become a starter if New York finds a taker for Julius Randle.
  • Despite some speculation to the contrary, Jay King of the Athletic hears that the Celtics don’t plan to reach out to a veteran big man to help replace Robert Williams (Twitter link). Sources tell King that the roster spot that formerly belonged to Bruno Caboclo will likely go to another young center or power forward. Williams will undergo arthroscopic surgery and is projected to miss four to six weeks.
  • Surgeries for both Williams and Danilo Gallinari have been scheduled for Thursday, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens called Williams’ injury “short term.”
  • T.J. Warren could be the Nets‘ leading scorer off the bench if he can overcome the foot problems that have plagued him for the past two seasons, Alex Schiffer of The Athletic writes in an overview of Brooklyn’s roster. Warren averaged 19.8 points per game and shot 40.3% from three-point range during his last healthy season. Schiffer believes the team is strong everywhere but center, and he points to Dwight Howard as a potential low-cost addition who could provide experience in the middle.

Robert Williams To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Knee

The knee injury that Robert Williams sustained near the end of the 2021/22 season continues to be an issue for the Celtics big man, who will undergo arthroscopic surgery on that troublesome left knee, reports Sean Deveney of Heavy.com.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links), the procedure is expected to require a recovery period of four-to-six weeks. Williams will miss training camp and the preseason, but the hope is that he’ll be back in the Celtics’ lineup early in the regular season, Woj says, adding that the plan is for him to have the surgery later this week (Twitter link).

Williams initially underwent surgery on the knee in March after tearing his meniscus. He was able to return to the court less than a month later and played a part in the Celtics’ run to the NBA Finals, though he wasn’t at 100% in the postseason. The 24-year-old sat out five games in the second and third rounds of the playoffs and reportedly required extensive treatment as he dealt with fluid build-up.

Williams enjoyed a breakout season in 2021/22, establishing new career highs in PPG (10.0), RPG (9.6), BPG (2.2), games played and started (61), field goal percentage (73.6%), and several other categories. He also helped anchor the NBA’s top defense.

As Deveney writes, the hope was that Williams would be ready to go this fall after resting the knee during the offseason, but it appears that won’t be the case. The procedure will leave the Celtics – already missing Danilo Gallinari due to a torn ACL – shorthanded in the frontcourt to open the season.

Al Horford, Grant Williams, Luke Kornet, camp invitee Noah Vonleh, and two-way player Mfiondu Kabengele are among Boston’s top available big men heading into training camp. As Bobby Marks of ESPN observes (via Twitter), we’ll likely see Jayson Tatum play plenty of minutes at power forward in the early going to help fill the gaps in the depth chart.

Eastern Notes: Harrell, Heat, Jovic, Nets, R. Williams

The Heat could have benefited from signing free agent big man Montrezl Harrell this summer, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel opines in an “Ask Ira” mailbag. While the Heat could still theoretically sign him, they re-signed Udonis Haslem last week, which means they can’t add another player to their regular season roster without going into the luxury tax.

Winderman believes the Heat could use Harrell’s size and energy. However, his inability to shoot from distance could make him an awkward fit, especially when playing alongside a non-shooter in Bam Adebayo.

Harrell split the 2021/22 season with the Wizards and Hornets, averaging 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game. The Heat lost starting power forward P.J. Tucker to the Sixers last month and have a number of undersized options they can play at the four, including Jimmy Butler and Caleb Martin. Other East contenders such as the Celtics and Bucks start bigger lineups featuring Al Horford and Giannis Antetokounmpo, respectively, at power forward.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

Grizzlies Among Teams Inquiring On Kevin Durant

The Grizzlies are showing interest in Kevin Durant and have made “new inquiries” on the Nets‘ star forward, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As Charania writes within his round-up of the latest Durant-related rumors from around the NBA, the Grizzlies could include up to five first-round picks in a package for the two-time Finals MVP (their own 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029 selections, plus Golden State’s top-four protected 2024 pick). The team also has a bevy of young talent on its roster beyond star guard Ja Morant, including Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke, Kennedy Chandler, and David Roddy.

However, according to Charania, Memphis hasn’t appeared inclined to offer Jackson or Bane (or, of course, Morant) in a deal for Durant, preferring to build an offer around their draft picks. Given that the Nets are reportedly seeking a win-now return for Durant, that sort of offer is unlikely to pique their interest, even if the picks are unprotected — those first-rounders may have to be rerouted to a third team that could send Brooklyn the kind of impact players the team is seeking.

While the Grizzlies are an intriguing new suitor for Durant, there are still a number of other teams in the mix. The Celtics, Raptors, and Heat remain among the most significant threats to land the 33-year-old, Charania says, though Toronto has continued to resist including Scottie Barnes and Miami has “yet to seriously engage” in any discussions involving Bam Adebayo. Boston, meanwhile, has been unwilling to include Marcus Smart or Robert Williams in addition to Jaylen Brown, Charania says.

The Suns also remain involved, offering up Mikal Bridges and a series of draft picks, according to Charania, but they appear to be behind those Eastern teams among Durant’s most serious suitors.

Charania identifies the Sixers, Bucks, Nuggets, and Pelicans as some of the other teams that have expressed interest in Durant, though he confirms that New Orleans deemed Brandon Ingram untouchable.

According to Charania, the Hawks also made an offer for Durant, putting John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, and a draft pick on the table. The details of that pick are unclear, but Atlanta could trade its own 2023 and 2029 first-rounders or Sacramento’s lottery-protected 2024 pick.

Although Charania doesn’t specify exactly how the Nets felt about the Hawks’ offer, he says none of Brooklyn’s discussions have gained any serious traction. There are still five weeks before training camps get underway, which could be a fraught week for the Nets, assuming Durant remains on the roster — it’s unclear whether or not he’ll show up to camp if his trade request hasn’t been granted.

Celtics Notes: R. Williams, Roster Spots, Ryan

There aren’t any long-term concerns about the knee injury that forced Celtics center Robert Williams to undergo late-season meniscus surgery, sources close to the team tell Brian Robb of MassLive. Williams experienced soreness and swelling in his left knee throughout the postseason, but was able to take part in 17 of Boston’s 24 playoff games.

No follow-up surgery was needed during the offseason, and Williams is expected to be 100% when training camp opens in about five weeks. Robb adds that Williams has been posting some of his workouts on Instagram, and they include a lot of strength training.

Robb doesn’t expect Williams’ role to change much in the upcoming season, but the coaching staff would like to see him become more aggressive with finishing around the rim on the theory that opposing defenses will be stretched further by the team’s improved outside shooting.

There’s more from Boston:

  • The Celtics will likely keep one roster spot open at the start of the season due to luxury tax considerations, which sets up an intense battle heading into camp, Robb adds in the same piece. Robb sees Noah Vonleh and Justin Jackson as the most likely candidates to make the final roster, but he expects Bruno Caboclo, Brodric Thomas and possibly other players to make it a difficult decision.
  • Matt Ryan, who ended last season on a two-way contract, won’t be with the Celtics in training camp, Robb writes in a separate story. A source tells Robb that a “roster crunch” doesn’t leave any room for Ryan. The 25-year-old small forward signed the deal at the end of February and appeared in one NBA game.
  • Heat guard Duncan Robinson and Bucks guard Pat Connaughton are both critical of the Celtics’ set-up for visiting teams. Appearing on Robinson’s “Long Shots” podcast (hat tip to Thomas Darro of Heavy), Connaughton said the TD Garden is “the worst visiting team locker room in the NBA.”

Atlantic Notes: Quickley, Durant, Sixers, Raptors, R. Williams

While the addition of Jalen Brunson and the return of Derrick Rose will likely move Immanuel Quickley off the ball in 2022/23, the Knicks guard is making it a priority to improve his play-making abilities this offseason, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post.

“We put a big emphasis on his passing, we’ve worked a lot on his passing out of the pick-and-roll,” Andrew Morant, Quickley’s trainer, told Braziller. “Early pockets, late pockets and finding the corner shooters as he comes out of the pick-and-roll.”

Quickley’s name has come up in trade rumors linking Donovan Mitchell to New York, and it’s very possible that if the Knicks make a play for the Jazz star, Quickley will end up in Utah. However, Morant said he and the former Kentucky standout aren’t paying attention to that trade speculation as they attempt to hone Quickley’s skills this summer.

“I think he’s an asset to the Knicks in terms of if they want to win games, and he [could] be an asset to a lot of teams,” Morant told The Post. “I don’t know what the Knicks are thinking, what they want to do with him or what the situation is. What him and I try to do is be prepared for any situation and any opportunity that comes his way.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Responding to a report that suggested there may be some mutual interest between Kevin Durant and the Sixers, Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com evaluates whether or not Philadelphia could put together a competitive trade package for the Nets star. While Neubeck suggests an offer centered around Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, and Matisse Thybulle wouldn’t be “laughable,” he believes other suitors could comfortably top it, given the 76ers’ limited draft assets.
  • Damien Cox of The Toronto Star considers whether or not the Raptors should be seriously pursuing Durant, given the way the Nets forward’s recent demands have defied the “traditional owner-management-coach-player hierarchy” and the effect that could have on the culture the team has built in Toronto.
  • The Celtics, who have spoken to the Nets about Durant, have made center Robert Williams unavailable in trade talks, sources tell Kurt Helin of NBC Sports.

Celtics Notes: Gallinari, R. Williams, Horford, Mitchell

Danilo Gallinari‘s first exposure to the NBA came in the form of Larry Bird tapes that he watched while growing up in Italy, so it was an easy decision to join the Celtics in free agency, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. At age 33 and after 14 years in the league, Gallinari gets to live out his dream of playing for Bird’s former franchise.

“I think it’s something that is honestly gonna motivate me,” he said. “If I can do and achieve, team-wise, just a little bit of what he achieved in the past for the Celtics, it will be amazing.”

The Bulls would have given Gallinari more money, according to Weiss, but his affection for the Celtics prompted him to take their offer of $13.3MM over the next two seasons. Now that he’s officially in Boston, the forward wants to be part of bringing an 18th NBA championship to the city.

“You walk even in this facility, you look around and see what’s going on around the banners and the history and everything the Celtics were about, it was an easy choice,” Gallinari said.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Center Robert Williams isn’t showing any ill effects from playing in the postseason after undergoing meniscus surgery in March, a source tells Sean Deveney of Heavy. Williams dealt with frequent knee soreness and swelling, but he was still able to be on the court for 17 of Boston’s 24 games in its run to the NBA Finals. He hasn’t experienced any knee issues since then, according to Deveney’s source, and will resume training after a six-week rest period.
  • Al Horford is likely to see a reduction in playing time next season, Brian Robb of MassLive speculates in a mailbag column. He points out that Horford was fresher heading into this season because he was coming off a year in which he played just 28 games for Oklahoma City. The changes the Celtics have made so far this summer have created a deeper bench and provide more opportunity to rest Horford, particularly in back-to-backs.
  • The Celtics aren’t likely to get involved in Donovan Mitchell trade talks, Robb adds in a separate story, citing league sources, but he notes that there are other ways for Boston to benefit. Robb points to Jarred Vanderbilt as a low-cost option that the Jazz might make available.

Celtics Notes: R. Williams, Smart, Pritchard, Offseason

Celtics center Robert Williams endured a painful stretch of playoff basketball after returning from meniscus surgery that sidelined him for the end of the regular season, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Williams expects the pain in his left knee to fade away during the offseason, but he said the sting of losing the NBA Finals will be harder to recover from.

“It don’t stop hurting,” he said about falling short of a title. “Honestly, it never stops hurting until we’re back in this position again. Starting with the beginning of the season. Just got to be better, man. Got to be better. Everyone got to take a step up, add a little intensity to everything we’re doing. But it never stops hurting.”

Williams became a full-time starter during his fourth NBA season and posted career-best numbers with 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. The extension he signed last summer will keep him in Boston through 2026 and provide him with a few more chances to chase a title with the Celtics.

Coach Ime Udoka wants to see Williams get stronger heading into 2022/23 to protect himself against further injuries.

“A big part is taking care of your body and staying available,” Udoka said. “Obviously, had to strengthen up his legs, build all the muscle around it to protect his knees. But what I did tell him also was credit for playing through what he did and giving it a go, being out there for us. Now it’s time to rest up, heal up, be ready for next season and come back in better shape, better than you were this year coming into the season.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Even though the season ended in disappointment, players expressed confidence that the team is moving in the right direction after a strong second half surge, per Souichi Terada of MassLive. Marcus Smart reflected on Boston’s ability to turn things around after an 18-21 start. “This is probably our worst series (in the Finals),” he said. “It’s part of it. It happens. It is what it is. But we’re young. Things we went through to get here showed us what we have to come for us in the future. I think that’s why we’re confident about the future.”
  • The Celtics’ moves at the trade deadline created an opportunity for Payton Pritchard, Justin Quinn writes for Yahoo Sports. The second-year shooting guard hopes to carry the experience into next season. “This season’s probably been one of my biggest growths mentally,” Pritchard said. “Starting off the season, it was a different situation. I wasn’t playing at all for like the first 60 games, in and out and then the trade deadline happened and then I got an opportunity to play.”
  • In an offseason preview, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype looks at players the Celtics might target with their mid-level exception and their trade exceptions.

Celtics Notes: Game 6, Smart, Brown, Udoka, R. Williams

The Celtics are disappointed to be trailing 3-2 in the NBA Finals, but they were able to overcome the same situation in their second-round series with the Bucks, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN. Players faced that deficit with a surprising calmness after letting a 14-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter of a Game 5 loss at home, Lowe states, and they were able to retake control of the series.

“Everyone looked at each other and kind of gave each other a tap on the back and it was over,” Marcus Smart recalls. “Onto the next one. We all knew. Just stay together. Stay together. We had each other’s back. We knew Game 6 for us, there was gonna be hell to pay. And there was.”

Lowe notes the contrast with how the team handled losing early in the season, citing a November incident in which Smart called out Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum for not passing the ball enough. The comments created “real tension” in the locker room, especially between Smart and Brown, according to Lowe. And although the players have worked out their differences, Lowe says the incident affected the atmosphere surrounding the team for the next two months.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Brown called this year’s playoff run a “learning experience” that has helped the Celtics become more resilient in tough situations, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Brown believes playing three elimination games already will benefit the team heading into tonight’s Game 6. “We are not scared. We do not fear the Golden State Warriors,” he said. “We want to come out and play the best version of basketball that we can. We know it’s a good team over there. We know they’ve done it before. But we have all the belief in ourselves. We’re going to come out and leave it all out there. That’s the whole intent.”
  • The Celtics plan to spend less time tonight focused on the referees, Bontemps adds. Coach Ime Udoka thought his team got too distracted by the officiating in Game 5.
  • Robert Williams could potentially swing the series if the Celtics can find a way to get him more involved with the offense, suggests Brian Robb of MassLive. Williams is shooting 88% from the field against the Warriors’ smaller lineups, but he’s put up just 18 shots through five games.