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Robert Williams III to Undergo Right Knee Surgery, Out Indefinitely
Williams suffered the injury in the Trail Blazers' Sunday loss to the Grizzlies.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Less than two weeks after losing Anfernee Simons to a thumb injury on opening night, the Trail Blazers will be without another important rotation player for the foreseeable future. Robert Williams III suffered a right knee injury during Sunday night’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, and a league source confirms an ESPN report that he will need to undergo surgery. Details on the nature of the surgery and severity of the injury are not yet known.
Williams went down holding his right knee in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Grizzlies and asked to come out of the game. Because it wasn’t a dead ball, he stayed in for Portland’s next possession and the Blazers were forced to commit a foul to get him out of the game, after which Williams went back to the locker room with the team’s head athletic trainer, Courtney Watson. He was ruled out for the rest of the game.
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This will not be Williams’ first knee surgery. He underwent two procedures on his left knee in 2022 after suffering a torn meniscus, one in March and one in September of that year. He returned ahead of schedule from the March procedure in order to play for the Celtics in the playoffs. The second surgery came just before training camp and caused him to miss the first 29 games of last season. He’s also missed significant time in his career with hamstring and hip injuries. In his first five years in the NBA, Williams has only played 50 or more games twice. The most games he’s played in a season in his career was 61 in 2021-22.
In an effort to be cautious given Williams’ extensive injury history, the Blazers planned to rest him on most back-to-backs this season. He didn’t play last Monday in Toronto after playing in Philadelphia the night before, and didn’t play at all in the preseason as a precaution after banging knees with Jerami Grant during a practice in training camp.
Williams is a major loss for the Blazers. In his first six games in Portland, he’s been impactful as a rim protector and passer, both backing up Deandre Ayton at center and playing alongside him at power forward. His absence likely means more minutes for Jabari Walker at center, and could also mean some time for Moses Brown or two-way big man Duop Reath.
In the coming days, we will know more about exactly how long Williams will be out. But whatever the timeline is, expect the Blazers to be conservative in bringing him back, given his injury history.