The Boston Celtics have been actively engaged in trade negotiations this summer, most notably for Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant. While Jaylen Brown’s name has been included in trade discussions, a recent report from Kurt Helin of NBC Sports indicates that young center Robert Williams has been made off-limits.
The 24-year-old Williams has emerged as an incredible rim protector and lob threat for the Celtics, and that was on display during the NBA Finals. One could even make the argument that a more available Williams could have shifted the outcome of that series. Battling injuries, the young big man was only able to play 26 minutes per game; however, the Celtics dominated those minutes.
In the 158 minutes that Williams played in the NBA Finals, Boston outscored Golden State by 30 points. In the 130 minutes that Williams sat, the Celtics were outscored by 54 points. This level of impact is hard to replicate, especially from a young player. This explains why the Celtics would hold Williams off-limits in trade discussions; however, should the team reconsider if it meant landing Kevin Durant?
How much is too much?
Already including Jaylen Brown in their offer for Kevin Durant, the Boston Celtics have seemingly beat any offer that another team would realistically make. That said, it has yet to be enough. If the addition of Robert Williams were to land Durant in Boston, would it make sense for the Celtics to part ways with the young center?
While the addition of Kevin Durant makes the Boston Celtics a bigger threat on paper, the team must maintain a level of depth and versatility that allows them to compete with the league’s best teams. As previously mentioned, the production from Robert Williams at his age and price is nearly impossible to replicate. For a team already limited on center options, losing him would be a huge blow. Look no further than the previously cited on/off numbers for Williams during the NBA Finals.
Because the Boston Celtics are already including the best player anyone has offered for Durant, their current reluctance to include Robert Williams seems to be the right move. That said, is there a scenario that justifies trading Williams and going all-in?
The case for going all-in
With the Philadelphia 76ers recently emerging as a new preferred landing spot for Kevin Durant, according to Ian Begley of SNY, a potential big-three of Durant, James Harden, and Joel Embiid, projects to run through the Eastern Conference with ease. This would seemingly leave the Boston Celtics a tier below their Eastern Conference rivals. If they felt as if a deal between Brooklyn and Philadelphia was close, making a deal for Kevin Durant would not only add him to their side, but it would keep him from Philly.
In this event, parting ways with Robert Williams becomes more justified. This is the one outcome where the Celtics would be forced to truly go all-in; however, even if a deal between Philadelphia and Brooklyn began to gain traction, the 76ers still would not have an offer that sends Brooklyn a better player than Jaylen Brown. For that reason, the Celtics are correct for holding Williams off-limits, and will likely not be forced to change their stance.