Sunday, May 28

There’s plans in place for the Bulls’ Patrick Williams when he returns

The progress of Patrick Williams and his rehab from left wrist surgery continued to pick up the pace this last week.

“He was in Charlotte with us,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of the power forward. “He’s working, he’s getting workouts in, he’s able to do a lot more than he was several weeks ago.”

That’s why Donovan had a quick chat with Williams Friday afternoon, not only checking in on him, but letting him know what the focus the next month needs to be as he gets closer to a return.

The message from the coach? Get in as good a shape as possible, and then push that even further.

That was the mentality they took with Williams at the start of the summer and going into Summer League. They wanted the second-year player in the best shape he could be in with the mentality of being that defensive stopper that would guard the best wings in the game and be able to log in the heavy minutes that many of those elite wings play.

No change there, as the No. 4 pick from the 2020 draft could be back by mid-March.

“It’s hard because you’re not going against physical contact every day, but he has got to as best he can get himself in incredible shape,” Donovan said. “I thought that was a big focus for us going into the summer and then going into Summer League and training camp, and he did a good job with that. But he was able to play and do things we haven’t been able to do with him. It starts there.”

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What else is being discussed internally is will they bring Williams back as a starter – the role he had before he suffered the injury just five games into this regular season? Or do they like what Javonte Green has given this starting unit and won’t be looking to disrupt that chemistry?

“Javonte has filled in and done a really nice job as a starter,” Donovan said. “The thing we would have to evaluate is do you bring him off the bench or start him? What does our team look like if we all are whole? And how well does he fit with maybe a first-unit group or a second-unit group, but his whole focus on him has to be athletically getting his skillset and athleticism into the game.”

The Sun-Times reported last month that Williams was on the fast track back, especially since the early diagnosis for the injury was it would cost him the entire regular season, with the hopes of getting back for a postseason run.

If he can now get back in mid-March, that would leave Williams possibly three weeks of a regular season to get his legs and rhythm back. Just don’t ask executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas about it.

“At some point I think you’re going to see him this year,” Karnisovas said on Thursday, when asked about Williams. “So in terms of timeline, we don’t have one for now. We don’t want to put any pressure on Patrick or us to bring him back.”

Bob and weave?

Karnisovas was asked about financial constraints factoring into standing pat at the trade deadline, and in usual Karnisovas fashion wouldn’t show his hand.

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“I mean, there’s a lot of things that go into decision-making,” Karnisovas said.

It was reported several years ago, however, that with Michael Reinsdorf now having a stronger voice in Bulls business, paying the luxury tax hasn’t been an issue, especially if it means ownership feels like they have a contending team.

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