On Friday, Celtics first-round pick Robert Williams was in Boston for his introductory press conference. He held up his new No. 44 jersey, smiled for cameras, and answered questions about what he might bring to this powerful team. One of the questions was about his reaction when he found out the Celtics had taken him with the 27th overall pick.
“It’s like they believe in me,” he said. “That’s it really. They believe in me. They trust me. So I give it my all.”
But so far Williams, whose college career was dented by questions about his commitment and work ethic, has given the Celtics some reasons to doubt him. On Sunday, he missed the Celtics’ opening summer league practice because he missed his flight to Boston, the team said.
“I think everyone’s disappointed,” said assistant coach Jay Larranaga, who is coaching the summer league squad. “You want to get everything off to a good start in the first day, but we’ll handle that internally and move forward.”
Williams, a former Texas A&M star, went back to College Station, Texas, after his press conference on Friday — a curious decision given the Celtics’ first practice was just 48 hours away. The team was aware of his plans, though it figured he would make it back in time.
“Obviously unfortunate,” second-year guard Jabari Bird said. “But simple rookie mistake. He’ll make up for it when he gets here tomorrow.”
This is already Williams’s second gaffe since being drafted. The morning after he was selected, he missed his introductory conference call with the media because he overslept. The Celtics did not seem concerned about that issue, but sleeping through a conference call is a bit different than missing the first practice of a rookie season.
“I think with every rookie that comes into the NBA it’s really a race to maturity, and some people are further ahead like a Jayson Tatum,” Larranaga said. “And a lot of guys have some work catching up to do. So Robert, like I said, when he gets here tomorrow we’ll start working with him. And I’m just excited to get to meet him.”
Baynes reaches deal
Just after free agency opened at midnight on Sunday morning, the Celtics and Aron Baynes agreed to terms on a two-year, $11 million deal, bringing the center back to Boston, according to a league source.
Yahoo Sports reported that the second year of the deal will be a player option for Baynes. The contract cannot officially be signed until the league-wide moratorium is lifted on July 6, but Baynes alluded to the agreement in a Twitter post early Sunday morning.
“Staying where I wanted to be!!” he wrote. “Last year added fuel to the [fire] bleed green banner 18.”
Baynes, 31, averaged 6 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Celtics last season and became a key cog in Boston’s top-ranked defense. After the season ended, Baynes and the Celtics both made it clear that they hoped their partnership could continue.
“I’ve loved every opportunity I’ve had here, every step of the way,” Baynes said on June 7. “It’s a great team to be a part of. We definitely came in with 11 new guys but by the end of the season we were playing as a team, which is something that’s pretty crazy to be able to do that, with a team with so many new faces, after the team was so successful last year as well. So it was great being a part of that.”
Tatum was excited about the news on Sunday.
“Man, I was extremely happy to see him coming back,” Tatum said. “He was our best defensive player, him and Al [Horford] protecting the paint and talking. He was a guy that was a big part of our success this past season.”
Skipping Las Vegas
Tatum will not travel to Las Vegas for summer league games later this week, but he took part in Sunday’s practice and is expected to be at the other three sessions in Boston. In past seasons, Celtics’ second-year standouts like Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart have played a limited number of summer league games. But Tatum had an extremely heavy workload, playing in 99 total games during his rookie season.
He averaged 30.5 minutes per game in the regular season and 35.9 in the playoffs.
“Brad and the coaches asked me to come back,” Tatum said. “He said mostly every second-year player has played in summer league but since I’m not playing he wanted me to come back and be around the guys like Jabari [Bird], Kadeem [Allen], Guerschon [Yabusele], Semi [Ojeleye]. We all came in together, so I was happy to come back.”
Tatum said he is focused on gaining some weight and adding strength this offseason.
“I’ve got a lot of things to work on,” he said, “and things that I do well I just want to get better at.”
Bird’s focus on court
Bird, who was on a two-way contract with the Celtics last season, is part of the summer league roster despite being a restricted free agent. If he signs an offer sheet with another team, Boston will have an opportunity to match it to keep him.
“I’m worried about practice right now, to be honest,” Bird said. “Off the court my agent is handling that for me, but off the court I’m a Celtic, getting ready for summer league.