Robert Williams undergoes knee surgery, now expected to miss 8-12 weeks

BOSTON — The Celtics are going to be without starting center Robert Williams for a little longer than expected. That 4-6 week timeline that the team announced earlier this week? Go ahead and double it.

That’s kind of how things are going for the Boston Celtics these days.

Williams underwent a successful arthroscopic procedure on Friday, the team announced. The procedure removed loose bodies and addressed swelling in his left knee.

Unfortunately, it also increased the amount of time that Williams will be out. Initially expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, Williams is now set to miss 8-12 weeks. 

That puts his return to the Boston lineup at mid-November, if the big man were to return on the early end of that timeline. If his return is closer to the 12 weeks, wouldn’t be back until closer to the new year.

This is obviously not great news for the Celtics. Williams is one of the lynchpins of the Boston defense, a terrific rim protector that scares the crud out of anyone driving to the hoop against him. He played in 61 games last season and averaged 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per contest — all career-highs. He was on track to be named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year before injuring his knee in late March, which forced him to miss the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.

Williams underwent surgery after last year’s injury and returned in the middle of Boston’s first-round sweep of the Brooklyn Nets. He played in the first three games of Boston’s second-round matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks, but was then inactive for Games 4-6. He also didn’t play in Boston’s blowout Game 7 win over Milwaukee, though he was available. He played in 12 of the Celtics’ next 13 playoff games, as the team fell to the Warriors in the NBA Finals in six games.

Now he’s gone back under the knife on that same knee, and is set to miss extended time again. It’s not ideal for the 24-year-old big man — or the Celtics.

It joins a string of not-so-great-news surrounding the team with training camp starting next week. On Thursday, head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the entire 2022-23 season for violations of team policies. Joe Mazzulla will now take over as head coach. 

Danillo Gallinari, whom Boston signed to a two-year deal in the off-season, also underwent successful surgery on the torn ACL in his left knee on Friday. No timetable was provided by the team, but Gallinari is expected to miss the entire upcoming season.

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