BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Boston Celtics have been laser-focused on assembling the roster to raise Banner 18 this season, and that’s included making several tough decisions.

Most recently, executing that offseason blueprint included parting ways with Robert Williams III — a Celtics fan-favorite — in order to acquire guard Jrue Holiday from the Portland Trail Blazers.

Williams was dealt alongside Malcolm Brogdon and two first-round draft picks, putting an end to Williams’ five-year run in Boston. That became an especially difficult reality check for Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, who pulled the “really hard” trigger on Saturday.

“Yeah, (it was) really hard,” Stevens said Monday at Celtics Media Day. “… Those are like the hardest phone calls. Rob, it was such a pleasure to watch Rob grow. When he first got here, he had a long way to go, but he had a great attitude. He was a great teammate and got a lot better over time. I know Portland’s super excited to get him. And that was hard, really hard.”

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After being drafted 27th overall in 2018, Williams proceeded to step up as Boston’s go-to rim protector. Through vicious blocks and alley-oop slams on the other end, Williams was granted the nickname “Timelord” by Celtics fans — and it stuck.

Yet, offensive limitations and injury concerns ultimately kept Williams from reaching the untouchable status. Aside from flying in the air and dunking the ball, Williams was an offensive liability. There wasn’t much the 6-foot-9 Texas A&M product could do beyond five feet of the basket and that was the harsh reality. The patience of awaiting Williams’ emergence into reaching the potential Boston envisioned wasn’t suitable for its win-now mentality.

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On the flip side, Williams was also a big part of helping rectify Boston’s crippling defensive identity. Coming off an injury that kept him sidelined for the first 29 games of the season, Williams went on to average 8.3 rebounds while leading the Celtics with 1.4 blocks a night.

Considering the Celtics didn’t have a well-established front-court tandem to begin with last season, the loss of Williams leaves a gap to be filled ahead of Opening Night on Oct. 25.

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Featured image via Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports Images