The Boston Celtics continued making moves on Friday, this time securing an important piece for the team’s present and future. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics and big man Robert Williams III have come to terms on a multiyear extension.
According to the report, Williams — who is affectionately known as “Time Lord” to fans in Beantown — is re-upping with the Celtics for four additional years and $54 million. As noted by Woj, Williams’ new salary puts him in the top half of the league’s centers despite the fact that he has just a handful of career starts to his name.
Williams has been with the Celtics since 2018 when the team took him with the 27th overall pick in the NBA draft. And while it took some time to get there, he became a key rotational player for the team last season.
Getting His Shot
Although he checks in at just 6-foot-8, it was clear from the get-go that Williams had incredible potential as an NBA center. His massive 7-foot-6 wingspan, 40-inch vertical and overall athleticism led one to believe that he could be a high-level paint protector roll man and rim runner.
Celtics fans saw flashes of those attributes, as well as his underrated abilities as a passer, over his first two seasons in the Association. Last season, though, he finally got a real shot to show what he could do and it made a measurable impact on the floor for Boston.
At the trade deadline, the Celtics moved starting center Daniel Theis to the Chicago Bulls. It was a clear indication that the team wanted to see what it truly had in Williams and he did not disappoint. The Texas A&M product started 13 games down the stretch for Boston and averaged 9.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 blocks in just 23.7 minutes per contest as part of the first five.
While that’s a pretty healthy individual line, it was clear that Williams’ presence on the court just made the Celtics better. In games played after the trade, he boasted a team-best net rating of 9.1. The biggest difference came on the offensive end, where the Celtics were scoring 119.1 points per 100 possessions when he played.
Unfortunately, injuries limited him to just 15 games post-deadline. However, Williams clearly showed enough during that brief time to earn his big deal.
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Even before news of his extension came down the pipe, it was clear that the Celtics were committed to moving forward with Williams as their man in the middle.
With Theis already gone, veteran big man Tristan Thompson was also dealt this offseason. And while team president Brad Stevens did acquire two big men — Al Horford and Moses Brown — in the Kemba Walker trade, Brown has already been sent elsewhere and Horford is nearing the end of the line.
Enes Kanter was signed in free agency as well, but during his previous run in Beantown, he was limited to just 16.9 minutes per game.
As long as he’s healthy, look for Williams to get as many or more minutes in 2021-22 as he did last season. He’s the obvious choice in the pivot for new head coach Ime Udoka.