While painful for everyone involved, trading Robert Williams III “had” to be done by the Boston Celtics according to CelticsBlog’s Bobby Manning — who made the case that the team’s floor is higher but their ceiling is lower now that the Time Lord (plus Malcolm Brogdon and draft picks) has been turned into Jrue Holiday.
“Stevens had to (trade Williams) though, making the determination that WIlliams III’s upside raised Boston’s ceiling but relying on him to reach that level consistently, while staying healthy, lowered the team’s floor,” Manning wrote. “The Celtics needed him to play at his best, become a starter and expand his offensive game. In the playoffs, he managed only four starts, 20 minutes each night and 4.3 shot attempts. He passed less often. Joe Mazzulla encouraged him not to take jump shots. Teammates struggled to find him in his limited offensive role. In some games, his energy wavered. His athleticism did too, never looking quite like the same player after two significant surgeries.”
Williams, though a fan-favorite due to being one of the team’s longest-tenured players and a spectacular finisher/protector at/of the rim, was more often than not a $12 million seat-filler on the C’s bench. With the Milwaukee Bucks landing Damian Lillard, there wasn’t enough offensive firepower, particularly in the backcourt, to keep pace with what should be a high-scoring one-two punch in the “Cream City.” Thus, the move had to be made.
Former Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III could thrive in Portland
With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in tow, every other Celtic is a complementary player. Even Kristaps Porzingis will be, which is something head coach Joe Mazzulla will have to navigate carefully.
Williams was going to be the third option in the frontcourt in a Boston offense that is predicated on ball pinging the ball around the perimeter and finding the open 3-point shooter. Now, he is joining what should be a pick-and-roll-heavy Portland Trail Blazers offense initiated by Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons.
Williams could have one of his best seasons in the Rose City even if the Trail Blazers don’t win many games. And the Houdini hopes he does.