Teams have yet to report to NBA training camps, and there has already been a major shakeup in the Eastern Conference. On September 20, ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Boston Celtics rising star Robert Williams III would be sidelined for at least 4-6 weeks as he plans to undergo a procedure on his left knee. Wojnarowski notes that in the absence of the Celtics’ big man, Boston will have a huge void to fill defensively.
“Averaging 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks, Williams was the anchor for a Celtics team that led the league in defensive efficiency,” Wojnarowski writes per ESPN. “Williams held opponents to 38.2% shooting as the closest defender, lowest among players to defend 500 shots, according to ESPN Stats & Information.”
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Celtics Could Target Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge
In Williams’ absence, the Celtics will need to find a defensive anchor to at least serve as a placeholder for the standout big man as he recovers from his procedure. Wojnarowski notes that the Celtics could target veteran free agent big man LaMarcus Aldridge or Dwight Howard, who was on the Nets’ radar earlier this summer.
“Boston still has a roster spot left. There are still some veteran bigs out there on the marketplace. If they decide that they want to add somebody,” Wojnarowski said to Malika Andrews during an appearance on ESPN’s NBA Today.
“Dwight Howard is out there, LaMarcus Aldridge is out there – a player I was told they showed a little interest in this summer.”
Nets and Howard Had Mutual Interest During Offseason
The Nets and Celtics picked a rather inopportune time to need a big man on their respective rosters. The NBA offseason has reached the point where the number of good players left on the market is extremely scarce as most teams are mere days away from opening NBA training camp.
But Howard could be one home run signing for either team. Though he may not be the player he was at his peak Howard still has the tools to be a defensive anchor. Earlier this summer, Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of “Bally Sports” reported that Howard and the Nets had mutual interest.
“Dwight Howard’s name has been mentioned in blogs recently as a potential Brooklyn Nets off-season signee,” Robinson tweeted on July 26.
“I asked him if he had any interest in the Nets. His response to [Bally Sports] was: “Yes I am, [I] would love that.” Howard’s an NBA Champ & an eight-time All-Star.”
Kyrie Sounds off on Playoff Sweep
The Nets will enter this year looking for revenge after a disappointing ending to last season. For those who may be tardy to the party, after entering the season as the prohibitive NBA title favorites, Brooklyn got swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics.
The loss must have left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Nets. However, their star-point guard Kyrie Irving said that being swept by his former team was something Brooklyn “needed”.
“It was meant to happen like that, motivation, bro. We need it. We needed that humbling experience, especially going against the Celtics. It was already built in to be that match-up. So, we gonna see them again. We have to,” Irving told KaiCenat, YourRage, and Bruce Ray, on “The Boyz Night” Twitch stream on September 19.
“They’re gonna be where they’re gonna be, but those young’uns over in Boston, bro, I got to see them grow up. So, to see them do what they did last year on the Finals stage, making it that far, I’m glad they had to go through us.”
With revenge on their minds, it will be interesting to see what the Nets roster looks like when they open training camp on September 27.