The last puzzle piece of the Celtics’ offseason has fallen into place: Robert Williams.
As ESPN’s Adrain Wojnarowski reported to the scene, Robert Williams and the Boston Celtics have agreed upon a 4 year/$54m contract extension. Securing Williams’ future with Boston through the 2025-26 season.
With the Celtics becoming eligible to sign Robert Williams (a.k.a. Time Lord) to a rookie extension earlier this summer, the decision whether or not to extend Robert did not come easy for the Celtics front office, however.
Mostly due to Williams’ play style, development, age, and injury history, Rob found himself to be one of the most polarizing players on the Celtics roster. Ultimately, creating a big decision for the Celtics.
Considering the pros and the cons, the deal to extend Robert Williams does not yet project as a clear win for the Celtics.
Thus far, Robert Williams, more times than not, has appeared as nothing short of a blessing to the Celtics organization.
(Reminder: Danny Ainge nabbed Robert Williams at pick number 27.)
As a high IQ, athletic, rim running big, Williams provides a unique look at the big man position the Celtics lacked for years. Harboring the ability to effectively run the pick and roll, Robert Williams’ sheer athleticism and knack for the basketball already make him one of the biggest lob threats in the NBA. Furthermore, Robert’s awareness on the offensive end of the floor undoubtedly developed during his 1st three seasons. As a passer out of the low post and the top of the key, Robert Williams’ ability to hit the open cutter or shooter on the perimeter place him as an extremely valuable commodity for the Celtics.
Not to mention, on the other end of the floor, Robert Williams premiers as an outstanding player as well. Improving his defensive positioning throughout his career, Robert Williams now presents as a legitimate defensive anchor. Overall due to Robert’s ability to effectively block shots, play physical down low, and defend at the top of the key. For Robert, these improvements prove critical to his development.
Moreover, something must be said about Robert Williams’ increased effort during the 2020-21 season. During his rookie campaign, Robert’s consistent flaw turned out to be his effort. At times, Rob looked lethargic, winded, and unwilling to take on the responsibilities assigned to him as a center. Luckily, as Robert’s maturity continues to grow, so does his effort on court. Even amidst a brutal Celtics season, Williams could be seen sprinting the floor, diving for loose balls, and overall playing hard. Robert emitted all of the good traits Celtics fans love to see.
Nevertheless, despite all of the praise Robert Williams receives for what he can do on court, the question whether or not Robert can stay on court still remains up in the air.
Up to this point in Rob’s career, durability has undoubtedly become a lingering issue. Whether or not the Celtics can build with Rob at the starting center role moving forward depends on Rob’s availability. As everyone knows, the best ability is availability.
Entering his 4th season, Robert Williams already owns a robust injury history while in the NBA.
Due to ranging hip issues, back issues, knee issues, Williams missed valuable time as a young big.
Playing a total of 132 out of 258 eligible games over his 1st three seasons, Robert Williams saw the court only 51.2% of the time. A concerning fact to say the least.
Along with Robert’s ever growing number of games missed, Rob has yet to prove he can play over 30mpg. Peaking at only 18.9mpg last season.
Furthermore, the position Robert plays – center – historically owns a bad reputation when injuries enter the conversation. With the likes of Greg Oden, Yao Ming, and Demarcus Cousins as some of the few in mind.
Whether Robert Williams falls into the “what if” category or not remains a major question.
Robert’s Extension Dilemma
Unless the player stands a bona fide star, extensions between teams and players never settle easy. Especially when a plays sits in a situation such as Robert Williams’.
Going into the offseason, the decision to extend Rob did not come easy.
On one hand, if the Celtics extended Robert Williams now (which they did) at the negotiable price he’s currently worth (apparently 4 years/$54m), the team ultimately takes on the risk of potential injuries derailing Robert’s career, as stated above. Additionally, the team simultaneously loses more financial flexibility in the summer of 2022. Taking into account, the Celtics just secured Marcus Smart on a 4 year/$77m extension.
That said, if the Celtics decided not to extend Williams, the front office potentially risked Robert proving himself. If that had become the case, Rob would’ve inevitably receive massive sums of money from other teams in restricted free agency. Instead of what now might be a lower number to pay Robert.
Luckily for the fans, everyone received an insight into how the Celtics really feel about Robert Williams. Way before the October 18th extension deadline, nonetheless
The Celtics’ decision to extend Rob ultimately came down to the mindset the front office held about Robert Williams. In regards to where both the team and Robert stood.
Despite Robert Williams’ injury history, there was no denying Rob’s ability on court. For the past three seasons, Rob displayed incremental improvement as a young NBA player. Both on and off the court, Robert grew.
During his 1st day as an NBA player, Rob missed his first press conference due to oversleeping. Fast forward to 2021 and Rob, using the wisdom of Al Horford, Daniel Theis, and Tristan Thompson, certifies himself in the playoffs on the road.
As fans have witnessed in the past, when a player consistently hits checkpoints in their development during the opening portion of their career, money tends to hit their bank account quick. Considering the player Rob has transformed into , teams would’ve lined up to pay the versatile, young big . Leaving a path for the Celtics to ink an extension with Rob now.
At around $13m per year, the Celtics may be receiving a bargain in Robert Williams. Similar to when the Celtics extended Jaylen Brown to his current $27m per year deal. If indeed Rob stays healthy, a salary of $13m becomes a huge bargain for someone who projects to be a starting center. Not to mention a salary of that size transfers well on the trade market.
Robert Williams stood as a fan favorite during his first three seasons with the Celtics. Adding 4 more years onto Rob’s stay in Boston, the Celtics hand Rob the chance to achieve something special. Around a still young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, Robert Williams owns the opportunity to strike gold in Boston. By winning a championship and adding himself to the long list of Celtics legends at center.