Celtics Mailbag: Mystery of Star Big Man’s Return

Celtics center Robert Williams (right)

Getty Celtics center Robert Williams (right)

Welcome to the latest installment of Heavy SportsCeltics mailbag.

Insider Steve Bulpett will answer your questions — those pertaining to current league issues and even some off-beat perspective and opinion from his 37 years covering the NBA. (Want to know what former league city he misses most? Want to know about the Celtics’ first-ever trip to Sacramento?)

We’ll try to tackle it all here in the Heavy mailbag.

Leave your questions in the comments section below or email them to sean.deveney@heavy.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Uncertain Schedule on Time Lord

When do you think Robert Williams will be back? Some were saying in January, is that really possible? They can’t win in the playoffs without him. 

Erik F.

Methuen, Mass.

From everything I’ve been hearing around the club, things are progressing quite well with Williams in his rehab from the knee procedure. That said, people there are trying to avoid buttoning down a specific return time. The most important thing here, as you and most others believe, is to have him at his full capacity in the postseason.

In light of that, the Celtics will give him all the time he needs. The worst thing that could happen is Williams coming back too soon and re-injuring the knee or suffering a different issue because he’s favoring it.

It was a very good sign that he was on this most recent road trip with the club and is increasing his workload. But the key checkpoints at this time will the mornings after. If Williams is feeling no ill effects the day after his sessions, it will speak well to the possibility of a quicker return and a better prognosis for continued health with his knees once he does get back.

It is not too hard to understand why the Celtics let Ime Udoka go. But he got them to the Finals and the players do not seem happy about him (possibly) getting another job. Can that be a problem for Joe Mazzulla?

Kevin B.


Between the time your question was sent and now, some uncertainty has crept into the potential Ime-Brooklyn pairing. But no matter how that shakes out and whether Udoka goes there or to another club, I don’t think it will be a problem at all for Mazzulla and the players. The reason for the reactions from Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown after the reports that Udoka would sign with the Nets was a bit of frustration and confusion because they still don’t know the entire story of what happened with their former coach.

Without knowing and having time to digest details, it does indeed seem odd that the Celtics wouldn’t let him coach, but that a rival appeared ready to hire him.

Mazzulla will rise or fall based on how well he is able to communicate his ideas and get the players to accept and execute them. Those players liked Mazzulla when he was an assistant, and it’s not just about being a good guy with them. The C’s also liked Udoka, who had no problem calling them out as a group in public.

Whatever Happened to Tacko?

Whatever happened to Tacko Fall? I saw him dominate in China. Why did he not get more of a chance to play?

Brandon B.

Wells, Maine

The key words in your question are “in China.” While he has absolutely looked very good in the highlights we’ve all seen, there is room to doubt that he’d be able to duplicate all those moves in the NBA.

Tacko was always going to be a long-term project, and while I would have liked to see him hang around here longer, the Celts had to make a judgment.

Remember, everyone else in the league could have had him, too.

The Cavaliers have beaten the Celtics twice already and they looked better than them on both sides of the ball. No one talks about them as a championship contender. Is that just because they are kind of new?

Katharine E.

Lexington, Kentucky

Cleveland has a very good starting five, and you have to believe that group is going to get steadily better as Darius Garland has a chance to work his way back into the mix after being out with an eye injury. Depth could be a problem for the Cavs.

But while it’s hard to see them in the title mix, it’s true, as well, that, yes, people weren’t talking about them much in the preseason because they were a new collection. I think people wanted to see how Donovan Mitchell would take to the new surroundings and how long it would take them to develop their chemistry. The answers to those two questions are a. very well and b. not long at all.


Read More