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Isaiah Thomas has a warning for Robert Williams III: Be careful playing through injuries the Boston Celtics say can’t get any worse.
Isaiah Thomas @Isaiah Thomas
Heard that before lol https://t.co/oxOEWdvRyT
Thomas famously played for the Celtics in the 2016-17 season despite a hip injury and aggravated the injury during the 2017 playoffs. The injury changed his career forever, and Thomas never returned to the All-NBA form that he enjoyed that season had shown.
Playing through injury also likely cost Thomas tens of millions in future earnings as the 2017-18 season was the last year of his contract. The Celtics traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017 offseason, and the two-time All-Star went on to join six different NBA teams and had a stint in the G League while undergoing multiple surgeries to repair his ailing hip.
Williams suffered a meniscus tear in March and returned in less than a month to support the Celtics’ postseason run. While the center was effective on the ground, the 24-year-old revealed he has been battling persistent knee pain and has had to have fluid drained from his knee on a number of occasions.
“I had a really bad knee loss in the last series,” Williams said Chris Haynes by Yahoo Sports. “I stopped venting it because I didn’t think there was any point. My knee kept filling up with fluid. So I kind of learned how to use that to be able to play.”
Williams is the Celtics’ main center back and you can see the difference in their defensive intensity when the second-team all-defensive pick is on the ground. Boston’s defensive rating improves 7.1 points per 100 possessions when Williams is floored during the playoffs.
Unlike Thomas, Williams has at least some sort of long-term security. He is in the first year of a four-year, $48 million extension that will last through the 2025-26 season.