With less than one month go until NBA Opening Night, Boston Celtics fans received some less-than-ideal news on Tuesday.
C's big man Robert Williams reportedly will undergo surgery on his left knee and miss the next four-to-six weeks. That makes him unlikely to suit up for the Oct. 18 season opener vs. the Philadelphia 76ers, but barring a setback, he shouldn't have to miss many more regular-season games.
While it's encouraging Williams probably won't miss much time, his injury history is a cause for concern. The 24-year-old has struggled to stay on the court so far in his four-year NBA career and his surgery will be on the same knee that required a procedure in March to repair a torn meniscus.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix provided more details on Williams' surgery Tuesday on Early Edition.
"I've checked in with a few people within the organization. A lot of what I heard is Robert Williams, in the aftermath of the Finals, took a lot of time off. Really needed to rest that left knee after effectively being day-to-day for the better part of two months." Mannix said. "When he did start to ramp it up again, this sort of persistent pain was occurring in the knee and the Celtics decided, 'Let's get it done with right away. Maybe we'll miss a week, maybe we'll miss two weeks of the regular season, but let's deal with this now before the games really count and be healthy for the duration of the season.'"
So, just how worried should Celtics fans be about Williams' latest injury scare?
"I think if you're going to put it on a 1 to 10 scale, I would say 5 or 6 right now," Mannix said. "I mean, Robert Williams did need knee surgery toward the end of last season, but he came back a lot faster than anyone expected. And he has shown everybody in this last year that this man can play through pain, that he's willing to play hurt and he'll do it whenever it's humanly possible.
"So it's troubling right now to see Robert Williams go down with this type of injury, but as long as he's back within that first week or two in November, this will be something I think we'll be looking past pretty quickly. Right now, all it really is is a question about the Celtics, their bench, do they have to bring somebody in to shore up that frontcourt?"
Williams was one of the Celtics' most valuable players during their 2021-22 run. He averaged 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 2.0 assists through 61 games in his first full season as a starter.
Our Chris Forsberg stressed the need for Williams to be at full strength in order for Boston to make another run this upcoming season. Until then, it's next man up as the C's look to keep their heads above water for the first week or two of the campaign.
"I think he sacrificed a little bit to be out there last year, and so now you're paying the price a little bit this year," Forsberg said. "When Rob is healthy, he is a game-changer and he just changes the dynamic of this team. They need him healthy in June, in May, whatever the case may be. And so, if you have to bite the bullet right now to get him healthy, it's not the worst thing.
"I hope Luke Kornet is ready, I hope Mfiondu Kabengele and all of these other bigs that they brought into camp are ready to try and compete for spots while this is going on. Al Horford is 36; there are going to be back-to-backs that he can't play. How do the Celtics weather those games early? You don't want to dig yourself the hole that they dug last year and have to kind of claw your way out and run out of steam at the end."
You can watch the full Early Edition segment with Mannix and Forsberg below: