Earlier this offseason, the Celtics signed Marcus Smart to an extension to build with him alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Now, they’ve made another move to keep a key player around.
As reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics and center Robert Williams III have agreed to a four-year, $54 million contract extension. Williams, a first-round pick in 2018 out of Texas A&M, has one more year left on his rookie contract, so this deal will not kick in until after the end of the upcoming season.
Boston Celtics center Robert Williams has agreed on a four-year, $54M contract extension, his agent @KB_radbury of @Rep1Sports tells ESPN. Williams’ deal puts his salary in top half of league’s centers despite only 13 career starts. pic.twitter.com/gUQHzLWcCJ
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 20, 2021
This is an interesting bet for the Celtics on Williams. He’s only made 23 starts in his career, including 13 last season when he averaged career-highs in points, rebounds and blocks in 18.9 minutes per game. In getting this deal, even after Boston brought back Al Horford via trade and signed Enes Kanter to a one-year deal in free agency, it seems likely that Williams will both start more games and play more minutes.
Something like a Dennis Schroeder (who the Celtics signed to a one-year deal this offseason), Brown, Tatum, Horford and Williams starting lineup makes sense. Or, if Boston wanted to play smaller, it’s possible Williams comes off the bench behind Horford with Smart starting instead.
Regardless, it’s clear that Boston (now led in the front office by Brad Stevens, who coached the team last year) believes in Williams and that he’s going to get better as he takes on a bigger role. He will have to stay healthy, something he’s struggled to do so far in his NBA career. Notably, it also eats into the Celtics’ future cap space and limits their ability to chase bigger name players via free agency in the near future.