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Ex-Celtics big man sat out Blazers preseason opener due to ramp-up

Portland Trail Blazers center Robert Williams III defends a shot by guard Scoot Henderson during the team’s annual fan’s fest at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023.Sean Meagher/The Oregonian


While other former Celtics are making their debuts for their teams throughout preseason, Robert Williams III sat out the Blazers’ opener. Fortunately for the oft-injured big man, it wasn’t because of any health or injury concerns.

Williams was out for the Blazers’ game against the New Zealand Breakers on Tuesday because he is still getting ramped up, per Blazers insider Sean Highkin. Williams arrived to training camp late because of the Jrue Holiday deal, Highkin reports, so the big man is fine health-wise but getting up to speed.

That’s good news for the Blazers as Williams can be a game-changing talent when he is healthy. But the issue throughout the big man’s career has been staying on the court. Just last season, Williams needed to get a knee procedure right before training camp. The injury forced him to sit out a couple months and he didn’t quite find the same effectiveness as the 2021-22 season, when the C’s made the NBA Finals.

Ex-Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon did make his Blazers debut, though, in the 106-66 win over the Breakers, who play in Australia’s National Basketball League. Brogdon, much like his C’s tenure, came off the bench, playing 15 minutes as he put up two points and seven rebounds.

Williams and Brogdon were shipped to Portland in the Holiday deal that went down right before the start of camp. The Celtics also sent two first-round picks — their own in 2029 and the Warriors’ in 2024 — as part of the deal to land Holiday.

“You just realize it’s a business,” Williams said of the deal. “Obviously coming into another great opportunity. Great team, great guys, great coaching staff. It’s been a great energy since I got here, man. So I’m excited.”