Amid the Ime Udoka Drama, the Boston Celtics Sneak In Some Unfortunate Robert Williams News
A week before training camp begins, the news hasn’t been good on the Boston Celtics front. The team many pick to win the 2023 NBA championship is in flux, suspending head coach Ime Udoka for the upcoming season for improper off-the-court behavior that violated team rules.
The Udoka news has dominated the NBA headlines the last couple of days. Buried in the ugly news was a report on starting center Robert Williams III, who underwent surgery on his left knee Thursday. That news wasn’t exactly what Celtics fans wanted to hear.
The Ime Udoka saga has dominated the Boston Celtics news
It’s not the way the Celtics wanted to kick off the season. Early reports by Shams Charania of The Athletic had Udoka having an improper, but consensual, relationship with a member of the team’s staff. A later report by Charania said Udoka made “unwanted comments” to the woman. After a thorough review, the Celtics decided to suspend their coach for the entire season.
In a statement, Udoka accepted the decision.
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,” the statement read. “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”
Former NBA player Matt Barnes initially sided with Udoka and said full-season punishment was too harsh. Barnes then said he received a phone call with details of the incident that made him change his mind.
“I clearly have to say that last night, without knowing all the facts, I spoke in Ime Udoka’s defense, and after finding out the facts after I spoke, I erased what I posted,” Barnes said in an Instagram video. “Because this situation in Boston is deep, it’s messy, it’s 100 times uglier than any of us thought, and that’s why I erased what I said.”
While Udoka dominated the news, the Celtics gave a Robert Williams update
Beyond the Udoka ordeal, the Celtics have had some tough on-the-court news. Newcomer Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL a month ago during a FIBA World Cup qualifying game in Italy. He’s expected to miss most, if not all, of the upcoming season.
Williams, who underwent surgery for a torn meniscus at the end of the regular season, came back for the playoffs, making his first appearance in Game 3 of the first round. He played the first three games against the Milwaukee Bucks in the conference semifinals but then didn’t see any action the rest of the series as his knee flared up.
The Celtics watched Williams’ minutes the rest of the postseason. He played with a noticeable limp at times. Earlier this week, a report came out that he was going in for arthroscopic surgery on the knee. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski referred to the surgery as a clean-up.
Woj said the surgery would require four-to-six weeks of recovery time.
On Friday, the Celtics posted a Williams report on their Twitter account in between the Udoka updates. The Celtics said Williams underwent successful surgery “to remove loose bodies and address swelling in his left knee.” Then they added the doozy. “Williams is expected to return to basketball activities in 8-12 weeks.”
Recovery time has now doubled. That eight-to-12-week period doesn’t even mean a return to game action. That means he can start running and jumping again.
When Williams is on the court, he’s a game changer with his shot-blocking ability. Getting him on the court is the problem. It’s likely we won’t see Williams in game action until January.