Celtics

‘I ain’t seen nothing like that before’: Robert Williams feels ‘urgency’ with new contract extension

"Just as much as confidence, it’s motivation."

Robert Williams contract extension
Robert Williams III of the Boston Celtics looks to pass as Blake Griffin of the Brooklyn Nets defends. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Robert Williams seemed genuinely happy on Monday at Celtics media day, both with the contract extension he signed this summer that could pay him $48 million over the next four years, and when a reporter noted that he looks stronger.

“They got Andre Drummond over there with the 76ers, man, come on,” Williams said, breaking into a wide grin when he was asked. “I need a little meat on my bones. Obviously, don’t want to get to the point where I can’t use my versatility but for sure I tried to some pounds on.”

Williams finds himself in a fascinating position. The 27th pick in the 2018 draft, he played comparatively few minutes in his first few seasons due to injuries, but the flashes he showed were eye-opening. His athleticism is second to none on the team, his wingspan is impressive, and he’s a better passer than some might expect.

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So despite seeing Williams in just 113 games over the course of three seasons, the Celtics offered the 23-year-old life-changing money this summer — not max money, but enough that a tearful Williams reportedly called his sister in disbelief.

“To be honest, I ain’t seen nothing like that before,” Williams said on Monday. “So that’s my first reaction. But like I said, it gave me more of a sense of urgency that this organization is trusting me with something like that. So just lock in. That’s all I can do.”

The contract cements Williams’ status as a member of the team’s core moving forward — assuming he can stay healthy. Williams fits perfectly next to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, all of whom are also signed to long-term deals in Boston.

“It’s good to have guys I came in with be there this long,” Williams said. “Obviously, got a great relationship with the other guys. But it just means we’ve got to set the example for all the people coming in.”

Williams’ per-game numbers don’t pop off the page — eight points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game last year. But his pace-adjusted numbers are a lot more interesting: 15.2 points, 13.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 3.3 blocks per 36 minutes.

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Meanwhile, the stats don’t say everything. Williams intimidated other teams around the rim with his shot-blocking as word spread about his rim protection, and he provided consistent vertical spacing that collapsed the defense as well as a heady presence as a passer out of the post.

“He’s one of the best bigs in the league and he’s going to prove that this year,” Grant Williams said.

Rob Williams certainly hopes so. He said he feels healthy, and that he needed downtime to get himself right. Now he has a chance to prove he can consistently be a high-level contributor.

“It’s really a level of comfort that I could sense once I signed my deal,” Williams said. “But just as much as confidence, it’s motivation. There’s a lot of goals I’m trying to reach and reach as a team.”

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