Former No. 6 Pick Pegged as Potential Robert Williams Insurance in Celtics Trade

Mo Bamba named potential Robert Williams insurance policy

Getty Robert Williams III #44 of the Boston Celtics dunks the ball against the Brooklyn Nets.

As we’ve seen in recent weeks, the Boston Celtics are still short on quality depth at the center position, with Blake Griffin and Luke Kornet both failing to prove their ability to be primary back-up’s on a contending roster throughout the Celtics’ West Coast road trip.

It makes sense, then, that Boston could look to the trade market for a potential ‘insurance policy’ on Robert Williams, as his injury history will always ensure the Celtics coaching staff is walking on eggshells when working on his minutes’ distribution.

According to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, one player who could make sense for the Celtics is Mo Bamba, assuming they deem Jakob Poeltl to be too much of a flight risk at the end of his current deal.

“A Poeltl pursuit could prove too rich for this front office, but his paint protection, rebounding and low-maintenance offense would be awesome for this club. Otherwise, this hinges on what the organization wants from a backup big. Bamba stands out for his floor-spacing and athleticism, while Biyombo offers limited range but loads of energy and activity around the basket,” Buckley wrote.

Bamba, 24, would bring size, rebounding, and floor spacing to the Celtics, allowing him to slot directly into Boston’s offensive and defensive schemes while also having significant upside for future development due to his young age.

Bamba’s Contract is a Stumbling Block

Unfortunately for the Celtics, Bamba’s contract could be a stumbling block for them, as the seven-foot stretch-five is currently earning $10.3 million, which is beyond any of the trade exceptions the Celtics have at their disposal, meaning they would have to put a package of players together to match salaries.

Considering Boston is already a tax-paying team, packaging multiple players to acquire Bamba might not be in their best interests, as they would then need to extend offer sheets to some veteran free agents to round out their rotation – thus costing them more money.

However, adding a legitimate three-point shooting big man who can operate as a rim runner or as a screen-and-pop threat may entice the Celtics into enquiring about Bamba’s services. Over Bamba’s first 23 games of the current season, he’s averaging 8.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game whole, shooting 38.8% from deep and 50.4% from the field. 

Robert Williams Set to Return

On December 15, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Williams is scheduled to make his season debut for the Celtics during their December 16 contest against the Orlando Magic.

Williams, 25, has missed the opening few months of the season after undergoing a second surgery on his left knee following a meniscus tear in March. Boston will likely keep Williams on a minutes restriction for the foreseeable future as they continue to take their time with ramping him back up, allowing him to re-acclimate to game speed while avoiding adding unnecessary stress to his body.

The 2021-22 season was Williams’ first year as a starter and saw him earn an NBA All-Defensive second-team selection while averaging 10 points, 9.6 rebounds, and two assists per game on 73.6% shooting from the field. Boston, who are currently ranked 8th in defensive rating, will be hoping that Williams’ return will see their defense continue trending in the right direction as they look to rediscover the form that saw the become the toughest defensive team in the NBA last season.

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