When the Boston Celtics traded its starting center in Daniel Theis to the Chicago Bulls ahead of last Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, it signaled a new beginning for one of Brad Stevens’ longest-tenured big men.
Robert Williams, 23, is arguably one of the Celtics’ most promising young players. And while last Friday’s matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks wasn’t the first time Stevens had scribbled Williams’ name into his starting lineup, this time was different.
The Celtics said their goodbyes to Theis less than 30 hours before tip-off, making a significant shift in the frontcourt. And Robert responded by turning in one historical performance.
In a 122-114 win at Milwaukee, he finished with 7 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 blocks — which made him only the sixth Celtics player in franchise history that notched at least five points, rebounds, assists, and blocks in a single game. His name joins a list that includes Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Paul Pierce, Al Horford, and Pervis Ellison, per Sportsradar.
Cedric Maxwell On Celtics’ Daniel Theis Trade: ‘Danny (Ainge) Has Done What Red Auerbach Did’
The Celtics’ 1981 NBA Finals MVP Cedric Maxwell, the host of CLNS Media’s Cedric Maxwell Podcast, said he’s seen Boston make a move, in the past, similar to the Theis trade. From a historical perspective, Maxwell drew parallels between now and a time the Celtics traded a guard to make a way for one of its own.
“We also have to talk about Daniel Theis being traded,” Maxwell said on CLNS Media’s Cedric Maxwell Podcast. “I think that Danny (Ainge) has done what Red Auerbach did when he was around. Red Auerbach shipped away Gerald Henderson. Gerald Henderson was a valuable player for us. But why did they do that? Because they wanted to give Danny Ainge an opportunity to shine and flourish in a system — that felt like the minutes that Gerald had were going to take away from Danny.
“Same thing that you talked about for the longest time — the keys now are in Robert Williams’ hands.”
After drawing a direct comparison with Ainge, the player, to Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations — who traded Theis — Maxwell related the situation to how he felt in Boston during his early playing days. Back then, a popular sportswriter called for the Celtics to make a move that would, in the end, pave a way for Max.
Cedric Maxwell Relates To Celtics’ Robert Williams Situation: ‘He’s Going To Be The Future Of The Celtics’
After a modest rookie campaign, he averaged 19 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists throughout 1978-79 and it ultimately led to him becoming a permanent starter the following year.
Now, “Cornbread,” says he believes the Celtics are making a similar path for Williams.
“Now, you’re going to play Robert Williams,” Maxwell added. “You’re going to get an opportunity to see if he advances and how he will advance. A good buddy (of mine) Bob Ryan wrote a story 45-46 years ago about this young kid that he felt — when Celtics were having a bad year — he said this young kid should get all the minutes he wants and make as many mistakes as he wanted but he’s going to be the future of the Celtics. That kid was Cedric Maxwell and I think that that’s what the Celtics are doing now.
“All these people that have been clamoring, “Rob Williams, Rob Williams, you gotta play him!” Well, you got what you asked for, and we’ll see how those results turn out.”
The Celtics will kick off a seven-game homestand against the New Orleans Pelicans, Monday night at TD Garden.
Brad Stevens Was Eyeing New Celtics Center For Years
Celtics’ Danny Ainge Feels Confident, Defends Deadline Trades
Celtics All-Star, Kemba Walker Deny Report Amidst Rumors