NBA rumors: Celtics active in trade talks, but not expected to field offers for Robert Williams

Led by 36 points from Jason Tatum and 30 points from Jaylen Brown, the Boston Celtics crushed the Sacramento Kings Tuesday night, 128-75. The 53-point win was the second-largest victory difference in franchise history, taking the Celtics 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Finally, healthy, the Celtics have been playing much better basketball lately, and boast the best net rating in the league (plus 12.6) over their current 10-game span. But despite the recent turnaround, the Celtics are still stuck in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, four games behind sixth-placed Philadelphia 76ers in the last-determined spot. That’s why the Celtics will continue to feature heavily in commercial rumors, as they have done since the season’s sluggish start.

In fact, they’ve already made one move, a three-team deal in which the Celtics acquired Paul Bull and PJ Dozier from the Denver Nuggets, and sent Juancho Hernangomez to the San Antonio Spurs. As the deadline approaches, the real question appears to be “Who will be traded?” Not “Are they doing more deals?”

To this point, it is worth considering some recent reports:

Jan 10 – Athletic’s Shams Charania

Sources said the Celtics 19-21 team has signaled to rival teams that they want to build around Jason Tatum and Jaylene Brown – and they have no interest in splitting the All-Star strikers at the moment. The Celtics seem to be open to working around other players on the roster.

Jan 24 – Heavy.com’s Steve Ballbett (and former longtime Celtics win writer)

According to sources around the league, the Celts have been very active in trade talks ahead of the February 10 deadline, and are looking to remake the pieces around Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

At this point, sources suggest that first-year head of basketball operations Brad Stevens is looking to at least offload some of the salary cap burden (as he did in the transfer of Juancho Hernangomez last week) and make way for Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith. and Romeo Langford to get more playing time.

January 26 – Michael Scotto, HoopsHype

Robert Williams has teased teams about the league, but rival executives believe Boston will stick with Williams and see him as part of the core of Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown.

While the split of Tatum and Brown — likely through trading the latter — has been a popular topic on podcasts, television, and social media, Celtics’ front office appears to have no plans to do so. And for good reason. The players themselves don’t want that to happen, and as the Kings game shows, they clearly have the potential to be a dynamic duo for years to come. The idea didn’t really make sense – at least not before trying to build an entire list around them.

The information for Tatum and Brown is important, of course, but perhaps the most interesting observation comes from Scotto: Robert Williams III has reportedly become untouchable in trade talks. It’s even more interesting when you think of it in conjunction with Tatum’s quotes from Tuesday night.

When asked that the Celtics were healthy and needed a full roster to succeed, Tatum took the opportunity to single out Williams, who put in 13 points, scoring 17 rebounds and four assists against the Kings. Especially when Rob plays. Tatum said. “I love when Rob plays”

So how did Williams get to this point? Let’s take a closer look:

His teammates love him

The NBA front desks can’t blindly follow what their top players are saying, but they have to take that into account. Tatum is the face of the franchise, and if he goes out of his way to talk about how much he loves playing Williams, that counts. And it’s not just Tatum.

Here’s Jaylen Brown after Williams scored his first triple of his career earlier this season.

“Rob is great, man,” Brown said. “Rob is exceptional.” “I think he’s a really talented player. Sometimes, I think he puts a lot of pressure on himself, like myself in terms of meaning. But when he goes out to play basketball, there aren’t a lot of people who can contain him. From both ends, his impact on defense and attack. Tonight everyone watched him so we need him to be as consistent as possible. I tell him all the time, ‘Don’t be afraid to be cool.’ I think Rob had a great night tonight and he deserves all the praise he should be getting.”

And Marcus Smart, after 16 points and 13 rebounds by Williams against the Raptors:

“Rob has so much to go, he has so much to give, we know that, and we love that,” Smart said. “He’s finally starting to take his own strides, we’re excited about him, and he’s excited to continue moving forward, helping himself and improving this team. We love everything Rob is doing. We’re excited about him, everything is so much needed for this team, and we appreciate it so much.”

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Contribution to both parties

Getting the support of your teammates is one thing, but the front office won’t shut down the letter on the teams calling you unless you’re also contributing to the court. Williams does just that, putting in 9.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 2.1 pieces per game, all career highs. He also shoots 73.8 percent from the field, a mark that would lead the league if he had enough shot attempts.

Offensive, Williams is a lob threat to Tatum, Brown and Smart in a pick-and-roll game, and he’s a great offensive threat. In a team that shoots as poorly as the Celtics at times, Williams’ 3.9 offensive rebounds per game (the fourth in the league) is a crucial source of second-chance points. And while he doesn’t always get a chance to show it because the ball isn’t much in his hands, he is a talented passer and recently scored his first hat-trick when he made 10 assists against the Sun.

Defensively, Williams came on alone. His 2.1 block per game is good for fourth place in the league, and he’s also one of only four players to average at least three “arrows” (steals plus blocks). When he is in the game, his presence prevents opponents from going to the basket, and he is able to make up for mistakes with his sporty style and hustle – 10 recoveries in loose balls per match (1.2) and 14th place in contested shots (10.6). He’s also getting better as a leader at this end. “I think Rob has been doing a great job in central defense, calling the keys, covering,” said Josh Richardson earlier this season.

Another key note from where Williams is said to have become untouchable: In the 507 minutes he’s been on the ground with Tatum and Brown this season, the Celtics have an astonishing net rating of plus 15.8.

Finally staying healthy

Williams has always had potential, but one of his main concerns was not being able to stay on court. A string of injuries to seemingly every part of his lower body – back, hip, thigh, knee, ankle, foot and toes – was limited to 113 games in his first three seasons.

This season, Williams has played 38 of the Celtics’ 49 games, the only notable injury being a short-term knee injury. He has missed other games due to COVID-19, an unrelated illness and the birth of his child, Hendrix. As of now, Williams is on his way to playing the most games of his career.

Given the way he plays, Williams probably isn’t the most enduring guy. But there is a big difference between playing 65-70 games a season and 35-40 – not only does the player improve, the team performs better. The Celtics were taking a bit of a risk when they signed him to a four-year, $54 million extension last summer, but this deal could be a big deal if Williams continues to stay healthy.

“It’s more than people think,” Celtics coach Emi Udoka said earlier this season. “And I told him about expanding his game, the turn, the minutes and everything increasing and what we see as a high ceiling for him for many different reasons.”

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