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

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

That’s the way it is with the Boston Celtics these days.

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

Unfortunately, it has also extended the amount of time Williams will be out. Williams was initially expected to be out for 4-6 weeks, but Williams will now miss 8-12 weeks.

That means he’ll be returning to the Boston lineup in mid-November, if the big man were to return at the early end of that timeline. If his return is closer to 12 weeks, he would only return closer to the new year.

This is obviously not good news for the Celtics. Williams is one of the linchpins of the Boston defense, a great rim protector who will scare anyone who rides against him to the hoop. He played in 61 games last season and averaged 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game – all career highs. He was well on his way to becoming the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year before injuring his knee in late March, forcing 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 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 did not play in Boston’s outburst Game 7 win over Milwaukee, although he was available. He played in 12 of the Celtics’ next 13 playoff games, when the team fell to the Warriors in the NBA Finals in six games.

Now he has gone under the knife again on that same knee, and he will be missing again for a longer period of time. 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 a training camp starting next week. Head coach Ime Udoka was suspended Thursday for the entire 2022-2023 season for violations of team policy. Joe Mazzulla will now take over as head coach.

Danillo Gallinari, who signed Boston to a two-year deal in the off-season, also underwent successful surgery on Friday on the torn ACL in his left knee. The team has not provided a timetable, but Gallinari is expected to miss the entire coming season.

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