Proposed Trade Sees Celtics Land Veteran Center as Robert Williams Insurance

Robert Williams of the Boston Celtics.

Getty Robert Williams of the Boston Celtics.

The Boston Celtics have dealt with a myriad of injuries and absences throughout the postseason so far. Robert Williams missed time with a torn meniscus, Marcus Smart is currently dealing with a sprained foot, and Al Horford is out due to health and safety protocols.

With all of the injuries, Boston’s bench unit has had to step up. Daniel Theis played extended minutes (22.0) during their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets, Grant Williams earned extra playing time (31.5 minutes) when Robert Williams missed time against the Milwaukee Bucks, and Payton Pritchard notched over 30 minutes in Game 1 against the Miami Heat with Smart sidelined. 

In a recent Bleacher Report article published on May 18, Greg Swartz suggested a trade that would help Boston’s depth. More specifically, he said the Celtics should make the following trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder due to “Robert Williams III’s knee issues.”

The trade proposed by Swartz would play out as followed:

Celtics receive: Mike Muscala, Kenrich Williams

Thunder receive: Aaron Nesmith, 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick (via Orlando Magic)

Swartz stated that Boston would benefit from having an extra rim-protecting center on the roster due to Williams’ history of injury concerns.

Muscala’s and Kenrich Williams’ Potential Roles

The article noted that while Al Horford, Grant Williams, and Daniel Theis have done well to replace Robert Williams’ shot-blocking presence, adding Muscala to the mix would give Boston “another versatile big who can offer some rim protection.”

Swartz also brought up the point that Muscala would act as another stretch big for the Celtics. The 30-year-old big man shot 42.9% from three-point range for the Thunder this year and has shot 37.7% from distance throughout the course of his career.

As for Williams, the Thunder swingman has proven to be a versatile threat on both sides of the basketball. Swartz stated that he would be “a switchable defender who can line up against Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and others,” referencing Boston’s current Eastern Conference Finals series against the Heat.

Williams has earned the nickname ‘Kenny Hustle’ thanks to his constant hustle and intense playstyle. He averaged 7.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists for the Thunder this past season, getting things done in all aspects of the game.

While this trade would require Boston to part ways with Nesmith, Swartz mentioned that Oklahoma City would be a better fit for the young wing.

Nesmith’s Chance to Thrive With Thunder

Despite being the 14th-overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Nesmith has yet to carve out a consistent role with the Celtics. He only appeared in 52 games for Boston this past year, averaging 11.0 minutes per contest. The 22-year-old averaged 3.8 points on 39.6% shooting.

While Nesmith has yet to earn regular minutes on the title-contending Celtics, the Thunder would provide him with more freedom to develop. Swartz noted that “would have more minutes available for Nesmith,” as they are in the midst of a long-winded rebuild.

However, in order to get the deal done. Swartz suggested that the Celtics would have to throw in a couple of second-round picks. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti is famously obsessed with draft picks and has referred to them as the NBA’s “currency.”

With Nesmith struggling to earn playing time, trading him away to add more depth could be a smart move for the Celtics this summer, as it’s looking more and more likely that he won’t be in the team’s future plans.

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