4-Time All-Star Could Fill Robert Williams Void For Celtics

Robert Williams, Boston Celtics

Getty Robert Williams, Boston Celtics

In another disappointing turn of events, the Boston Celtics will now be without Robert Williams to begin the season, as he is scheduled to have an arthroscopic procedure on his knee this week.

“Williams has gotten some bad news—according to a source, he will have arthroscopic surgery on the knee, which will keep him out for all of camp and likely into the early weeks of the season,” Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney wrote in his September 20 article explaining Williams’ setback.

The Celtics have been short of a backup center all summer, and with Williams’ injury to now contend with, it might be time for Brad Stevens to dip his toes back into the free-agency market. Of all the available veterans the Celtics could look to acquire, DeMarcus Cousins seems like the best fit in terms of systematic fit and style of play.

“The Celtics have 12 roster spots and are likely to add two more players, though they will be mostly looking at wings with those spots. That could change, though, with the Williams news. There are experienced veteran centers to be had on the market—Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins, Cody Zeller, Hassan Whiteside, and former Celtics Greg Monroe and Tristan Thompson among them—but Boston could be willing to give Kornet and/or Kabengele an opportunity to prove themselves,” Deveney wrote in the same piece.

Cousins’ Style of Play Fits Boston’s Needs

If the Celtics are simply looking to add a modern-day big man, who can impact the game on the perimeter and around the rim, then Cousins is their best option. The four-time All-Star is still a serious presence on the glass, and averaged 5.6 rebounds per game last season during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets.

Furthermore, Cousins is also a career 33.1% three-point shooter, so his presence atop of the key will demand attention, which spreads the floor for Boston’s wing slashers such as Jaylen Brown, and to a lesser extent, Jayson Tatum.

Defensively, Cousins is a drop-coverage center – similar to all the available big men in free agency, and his six-foot-ten frame would ensure there is a physical presence protecting the rim. Sure, Cousins isn’t going to give you the rim-running that Robert Williams does, nor does he boast a similar vertical or athletic burst – but on a veteran minimum contract, the Alabama native gives you enough on both sides of the floor to be a valuable rotation player.

Celtics Waive Bruno Caboclo

Earlier this summer, Boston acquired Bruno Caboclo to compete for a roster spot during training camp, along with multiple other former first-round draft picks. Yet, on September 20, shortly after the news broke about Williams needing surgery, the Celtics opted to waive Caboclo.

While it’s certainly possible the coaching staff might not have had faith in his ability to earn a contract, the move does seem indicative that the Celtics are gearing up to bring in a potential stop-gap replacement for Williams. Furthermore, Boston had reached the 20-player limit that you’re allowed to take into camp, and by waiving Caboclo, the Celtics now have an open spot.

Of course, there’s no guarantee the Celtics are going to sign a veteran free agent – they could opt to bring in another young veteran to provide competition for Noah Vonleh. But, if the team is serious about finding some reliable cover for Williams, adding an older player with experience in the league is their best course of action.

As Williams is such a significant part of what the Celtics do, both offensively and defensively, it probably won’t be long until we learn what course of action the team is willing to take.

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