BOSTON -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge unknowingly tipped the team's first-round selection of Texas A&M big man Robert Williams when point guard Terry Rozier called him during a live webcast.
Rozier was appearing on Bleacher Report's online draft show when he was asked to predict Boston's pick at No. 27. Instead, Rozier FaceTimed Ainge, who answered at the Celtics' practice facility and eventually revealed the upcoming pick.
"I got to draft a point guard," Ainge joked when Rozier, Boston's postseason starter while Kyrie Irving was injured, first asked about the team's selection. Pressed for the actual pick, Ainge answered, "It's going to be Bob Williams, but we're looking at all the medical stuff."
After Thursday's draft concluded, Ainge admitted he was unaware that Rozier was calling during a live broadcast.
"I was obviously joking with Terry about the guard position. I had no idea I was on live, whatever it was," Ainge said. "I thought he was FaceTiming me. I had no idea. But, anyway, that is sort of funny. We're excited about Robert, and we felt like he was the best player available, and we think he's a great fit for our team."
Both Ainge and Celtics coach Brad Stevens revelled in the fact that Williams, a projected lottery pick, slipped to Boston late in the first round.
"[Williams] was a player that we liked coming into this draft process. He's a rim protector and rebounder, and a guy who can play above the rim on both ends of the court," Ainge said. "We don't have much of that. We have a little bit of that, but not what he can do. So his abilities to protect the rim and rebound and run the floor, and I think, are some of his greatest traits and uses."
Said Stevens: "Danny and [assistant general manager] Mike [Zarren] really started talking about [Williams] around [pick] 17 or 18. He's a really talented guy. There's a lot of good players out there, and each pick, we were hoping more and more that he would be available at 27."
There had been buzz leading up to Thursday's draft that the Celtics, armed with their gaggle of future draft picks and some intriguing young talent such as Rozier, might be interested in moving up into the lottery. Ainge said the team knew by Thursday the scenario was unlikely.
"We had spent the last few weeks trying to figure out what the cost was to get into the top of the draft. We knew going into today that it was very, very unlikely that was going to happen," Ainge said. "We were preparing for the 27th pick in the draft, and we were preparing for opportunities to move up, not all the way to the top of the draft, but somewhere in the middle of the draft. We were even preparing for opportunities if guys we didn't like were [at No. 27] and moving backward in the draft. That's the same thing we do every year in the draft with any situation that comes up."
Despite being a lottery projection (ESPN had him ranked 12th overall), Williams did not attend the draft festivities in Brooklyn, instead electing to host a draft party with his family at a Buffalo Wild Wings in his native Louisiana. Local news footage showed the family erupting in celebration when Williams' selection was broadcast throughout the restaurant.
Williams will be formally introduced to the Boston media next week before the Celtics' youngest players launch into practice in advance of summer league play in Las Vegas next month.