Blazers’ Robert Williams III to Undergo Right Knee Surgery

After sustaining an injury in Sunday’s loss to the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers center Robert Williams III will undergo right knee surgery, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.Robert Williams III

In regards to the exact procedure, medical professionals and Williams’ agent are discussing what type of surgery is necessary and the duration of the timeline needed for his recovery.

Williams, 26, has dealt with knee issues all throughout his young career. In particular, he tore the meniscus in his left knee in March of 2022, and missed the start of last season as a member of the Celtics, after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on that same knee. 

Williams’ current right knee injury occurred during the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s matchup between the Blazers and Grizzlies, as he fell to the floor while guarding Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr. in the paint. The Blazers’ big man immediately grabbed at his right knee, before getting up and looking over to the bench, while motioning for a substitution. After limping through the next possession on offense, Williams then went out of the game at the next dead ball.

Since undergoing imaging on his knee Monday, the injury diagnosis is bone and ligament damage to the right kneecap, which puts Williams out indefinitely. Although, if Williams wanted to avoid season-ending surgery, he could opt for the alternative cleanup procedure, and that would give him a 2-to-3 month timetable to return to the court.

Williams has averaged 6.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks during his first six games in a Blazers’ uniform. Notably, Williams landed in Portland this season by way of the late offseason trade that led to Jrue Holiday joining the Celtics. Williams spent the first five seasons of his NBA career with Boston, in which he averaged 7.3 points (73.2% FG), 6.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 20.3 minutes per game.

Williams is an elite rim protector, even winning second-team All-NBA defensive selection honors during the 2021-22 season. That is to say, Williams started 61 games that season and contributed 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game, while helping lead the Celtics to the NBA Finals.

Important to note, despite his efficiency and defensive production, due to injury, Williams hasn’t appeared in more than 61 games since being drafted by the Celtics in the late first round of the 2018 NBA draft. Williams currently has a four-year, $48 million contract that runs through the 2025-26 season. To point out, the incentives of his contract include appearing in 69 or more regular season games, which unfortunately will not be met this season. 

In Williams’ absence, it appears Moses Brown and Jabari Walker will pick up most of the backup center minutes in the Blazers’ frontcourt. With this in mind, the team was already rather short-handed to start the season, as the injuries have piled on for this young Blazers’ team.

In other injury news, guard Anfernee Simons recently just underwent successful right thumb surgery last Tuesday to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is expected to be out for approximately five more weeks. The Blazers currently have a 3-4 record, and will now rely heavily on new big man addition Deandre Ayton, with the team’s next matchup coming Wednesday vs. the Kings.

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