Patrick Williams

Central Notes: Oladipo, Holiday, P. Williams

The trade rumors surrounding Victor Oladipo died down to some extent as the 2020 offseason progressed. Reports suggested that he had hit it off with new Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren, while Oladipo himself said he had never told the team he wanted to be elsewhere.

Still, that doesn’t mean everyone is convinced that he’ll play out his full contract year with the Pacers. One NBA executive recently predicted to Bob Kravitz of The Athletic that Indiana will trade the two-time All-Star by the March 25 trade deadline: “He’s gone. They’ll move him.”

Kravitz isn’t ruling out the possibility of Oladipo thriving under Bjorkgren and deciding that he wants to remain the Pacers long-term, but predicts a deadline deal. No matter what happens, it’d be a win-win situation for Oladipo and the Pacers if the 28-year-old has a strong bounceback season in 2020/21 — it would make Indiana competitive on the court, increase Oladipo’s trade value, and increase the likelihood of signing a lucrative long-term contract when he becomes a free agent in 2021.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Bucks‘ suffered a heartbreaking opening-night loss to Boston on Wednesday, but they got a good look at what newly-acquired guard Jrue Holiday brings to the team, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Holiday commands respect as a shot creator, giving Milwaukee an added option on offense and taking some of the pressure off Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, as Nehm observes.
  • Fourth overall pick Patrick Williams was immediately thrust into the Bulls‘ starting lineup in his first game as a pro on Wednesday. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago provides a few reasons for why it makes sense for Williams to be a starter, noting that his strengths and weaknesses are a better fit for the first unit.
  • In case you missed it, a report on Thursday indicated that Cavaliers swingman Dylan Windler, a first-round pick in 2019, suffered a fractured hand on opening night. Windler missed his full rookie season in 2019/20 due to a leg injury.

Bulls Notes: Young, Williams, Markkanen, Porter

There’s no timetable for Thaddeus Young‘s return after a bout with MRSA, a bacterial infection, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago reports. The Bulls forward had his leg drained after it swelled up and it’s healing well but he didn’t play in any preseason games.

“There will probably be some sort of ramp-up period for [Young], so to speak, in terms of he’s missed some conditioning and a lot of practice,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He was dealing with a hamstring right around the time we started training camp. We’ll have to work to get him back.”

We have more on the Bulls:

  • While the rest of the starting lineup seems set, the small forward position remains in flux, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times reports. Donovan is trying to choose between Otto Porter Jr. and lottery pick Patrick Williams and they bring different skills, Cowley notes.
  • Lauri Markkanen didn’t receive a rookie scale extension prior to Monday’s deadline but he could still be a part of the long-term future, Cowley writes in a separate story. The new front office regime and Donovan simply put off making that decision by seeing what Markkanen does this season and allowing him to set a market price as a restricted free agent. The two sides never got close to an extension agreement, Cowley adds.
  • Despite Porter’s massive $28.5MM expiring contract, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic predicts Chicago will move him at the trade deadline. The team would likely need to include multiple players, as any trade partner wouldn’t give up a high-salary starter for him.

Central Notes: Donovan, Temple, Turner, Warren, Gores

Bulls coach Billy Donovan is already building a strong foundation in Chicago, working to establish relationships with his players and instill a respected culture within the team, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.

Donovan, who’s set to start his first season as head coach of the Bulls this week, spent the past five years coaching the Thunder. He led Oklahoma City to a surprising 44-28 record last season, good for the fifth-best in the Western Conference.

“He has a great track record with his players and he has done a great job so far of telling us what he needs out of us,” veteran forward Thaddeus Young said. “We had a meeting (early in camp) and he took time to really sit down as a team and tell us, ‘These are the things we need to do to win basketball game(s) and these are the things we need to do in order to fight through this thing.’ I think he’s done a great job so far.’’

Donovan hopes to guide the Bulls to their first playoff appearance since the 2016/17 season, leading a group that consists of Zach LaVine, Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr., Patrick Williams and others.

Here are some other notes from the Central Division:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago examines how Garrett Temple could immediately help the Bulls in a separate story for NBC Sports Chicago. Temple, the team’s only acquisition in free agency, finished his first practice on Sunday after quarantining due to COVID-19. “Just talking guys through certain things that I see, whether it be defensive things, offensively or just making sure we stay together,” Temple said. “If a team goes on a 5-0 run, 10-0 run that we stay together and not put our heads down. Things of that nature are some things I think I can help out with right away.”
  • The Pacers expect to have Myles Turner and T.J. Warren available for their season opener against the Knicks on Wednesday, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star writes. Turner had been coping with a concussion, while Warren had been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. “They were in a full physical, contact practice today and they looked good,” coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “There was a lot on 5-on-5. That’s what I would expect. They’re getting the green light to get closer and closer to that.”
  • A criminal justice group has submitted a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver with hopes of forcing Pistons owner Tom Gores to sell the franchise, according to Davide Scigliuzzo of Bloomberg (via The Detroit News). The group’s concerns lie with Gores’ financial interest in Securus Technologies Inc., which came under fire this year for charging prisoners as much as $25 for a 15-minute call, Scigliuzzo writes.

Central Notes: Giannis, Porter, P. Williams, Pacers

Plenty of options were waiting for Giannis Antetokounmpo if he had reached free agency, but he chose to remain loyal to Milwaukee, which has been his NBA home for the past seven years, writes Eric Woodyard of ESPN. Antetokoumpo provided an early Christmas present to Bucks fans on Tuesday when he agreed to a super-max extension that runs through the 2025/26 season.

“The way that this city has supported me and my family has been amazing since day one, since the day I walked in the Cousins Center gym and Bradley Center, also. It’s been amazing. I was 18, I’m 26 right now. All I know is Milwaukee,” Antetokounmpo said. “When I came here, all I knew is that this is a city that loves basketball, it’s a city that … We have more things to do now, but when I came here we had a lot of things to do so I could just focus on basketball and it’s a place that I want to be.”

While the Bucks had a huge advantage in the money they could offer Antetokounmpo, the two-time MVP had to be convinced that he could win a championship in Milwaukee. The front office was aggressive over the offseason, trading for Jrue Holiday and signing D.J. AugustinBobby PortisBryn Forbes, and Torrey Craig.

“I think we can get better. I believe we can be better. We’ve got better,” Antetokounmpo said. “We have a great team. We have a great culture. I know that I’m working toward that goal. The front office is working toward that goal, so I’m good. I’m happy. I think everybody’s on the same page.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers swingman Kevin Porter Jr. didn’t travel with the team to New York, which means he won’t play at all during the preseason, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Cavs have chosen to address Porter’s legal issues internally, Fedor adds, and are being vague in their public statements. Porter didn’t practice with the team until December 10 and may not be ready for the season opener next week.
  • The Bulls gave first-round pick Patrick Williams a start in their third preseason game, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. The decision was based partly on the team’s shortage of personnel due to injuries and COVID-19 concerns, but coach Billy Donovan also wanted to see how Williams would respond to opportunity. “It’s just more to see, like, OK, what does Patrick look like with that first group,” Donovan said. “Does Otto (Porter Jr.), you know, give us a little bit of a punch off the bench from a scoring standpoint? We’re gonna have to make some sacrifices all the way around as a team in terms of how we need to play, and then also what guys’ roles may be, just because of the uniqueness of what we’re all dealing with at this point in time.”
  • The Pacers appeared to be on track to make another front office addition, possibly a second assistant general manager, but they’ve tabled those plans for now, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

Bulls Notes: White, Young, Temple, Williams

Coby White got the start at point guard in the Bulls‘ preseason opener, but he has a long way to go to earn that job on a regular basis, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. White had an uneven game, finishing with 15 points and six assists in 23 minutes, but he missed his first three shots as Chicago fell into an early 17-point hole.

White’s main competition for the spot will be Tomas Satoransky, who started 64 games last season. New head coach Billy Donovan said he will make the decision based not only on White’s individual performance, but how he affects his teammates.

“As a point guard, it’s not always going to be about how well (White is) playing but how well the group is playing,” Donovan said. “And I think that’s his maturation — that’s the process he has to go through in terms of understanding that he has to be a connector. And it’s not only him — it’s the group that’s out there together. How can they make each other better? How can they function with one another? How can they play off each other? How can they make the game easier for each other? That’s going to be the biggest thing.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Veteran forward Thaddeus Young was scratched from Friday’s game because of a lower leg infection and won’t play Sunday night either, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Young is listed as day to day, but has no set timetable to return. “He’s doing much better, which is good. Things haven’t gotten worse,” Donovan said. “But I think the doctors want to keep a close eye on him with that infection and just make sure he’s healing properly.”
  • Garrett Temple is still in the league’s COVID-19 protocol and it’s uncertain when he might be able to return, Schaefer adds in the same story. Temple tested positive on November 28.
  • The Bulls like what they saw from lottery pick Patrick Williams in his first NBA game, according to Sam Smith of NBA.com. Williams came off the bench with 12 points and three rebounds in 25 minutes. “I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player,” Donovan said. “He has a really good feel for the game. He very rarely forces shots, he makes good decisions, he’s a good passer. He is really good when he gets into that elbow, paint area where he can shoot those one-handed lean-in shots. I’m sure he was a little anxious and nervous, but he’s got a good pace and good way he plays and he can get into the mid range. I thought he played very well considering the fact that there was no real Summer League or build up to training camp, and he had to come here after the draft and get started.”

Bulls Sign Patrick Williams To Rookie Deal, Devon Dotson To Two-Way

Bulls rookies Patrick Williams and Devon Dotson have inked their new deals with the club, per the NBA’s official transactions log.

Unless the No. 4 pick out of FSU accepts a deal worth less than the maximum allowable 120% of the rookie scale, Williams will earn $7,068,360 in his rookie year and about $32.1MM over the first four years of his NBA career. A full list of anticipated rookie scale salary figures is viewable here.

The 6’8″ Williams is viewed as an athletic, defensive-oriented forward with room to grow on offense as a long-distance shooting threat. His physical attributes (he has a 7′ wingspan) and tantalizing upside saw him vault into the lottery conversation relatively late this season.

Williams will compete with incumbent starter Lauri Markkanen for minutes at power forward, the No. 4 pick’s most natural positional fit. Ahead of the draft, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer hailed the ascendant Williams as potentially being one of the biggest steals this year.

As was previously reported, Dotson signed a two-way deal with Chicago. The 6’2″ point guard, who went undrafted this year, will join the team in training camp and compete for a roster slot, though as a two-way player he may log significant time for Chicago’s G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls in Hoffman Estates.

For Kansas last season, Dotson averaged 18.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 4.0 APG with 2.1 SPG. Dotson was John Hollinger of The Athletic‘s highest-rated undrafted player, and was actually listed at No. 15 overall in Hollinger’s pre-draft rankings. Williams, meanwhile, was No. 14.

Dotson’s biggest assets are his scoring and his speed. At the NBA Draft combine earlier in November, he recorded the second-fastest three-quarter-court sprint of the past ten years at 3.02 seconds, per CJ Moore of The Athletic. 2019 lottery pick Coby White and veteran Tomas Satoransky currently project to play the lion’s share of minutes at the point for the Bulls.

Bulls Notes: Williams, Simonovic, Draft, QO Decisions

Making his first draft pick as the head man in an NBA front office on Wednesday night, new Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas told reporters – including Sam Smith of Bulls.com – that he was pleased to come away with Florida State forward Patrick Williams at No. 4. Karnisovas praised Williams’ athleticism, versatility, ballhandling, and ability to play multiple positions.

“The more we were digging in his background and we were able to see him, that’s how we came to our decision that that’s our guy,” Karnisovas said of Williams. “We need players in our league that can play multiple positions. He’s an elite athlete. At four we were really happy in that position because we knew we had a chance to pick Patrick and we just stayed there and we got our player.”

Williams was one of two picks the Bulls made on Wednesday, along with Montenegrin center Marko Simonovic at No. 44.

“I think overall tonight we drafted players that we were targeting,” Karnisovas said, per Smith. “And it doesn’t happen very often. I received a ton of texts from executives around the league and they were all telling me, ‘Enjoy your night.’ And that’s what I did. It’s special to me. It’s my first night as a lead exec of the Chicago Bulls. I thought it was a very successful night.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Despite rumors that the Bulls had offered Wendell Carter Jr. and the No. 4 pick to move up to No. 2, Karnisovas told reporters after the draft that the club didn’t consider trading up (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago). While that may be true, it’s also plausible that Karnisovas is saying that publicly so as not to make waves with Carter.
  • Simonovic will be stashed overseas for at least one year, Karnisovas said on Wednesday night (Twitter link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic). He’s currently under contract with Crvena Zvezda in Serbia.
  • Explaining the Bulls’ decision not to tender qualifying offers to Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison, while Denzel Valentine got one, Karnisovas said that the club’s limited roster space and emphasis on shooting were major factors (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson). The president of basketball operations added that Chicago will be “really picky” in free agency.

Draft-Night Rumors: Warriors, Pistons, Avdija, Baynes

Drafting James Wiseman won’t prevent the Warriors from looking to add another big man, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area, who reports (via Twitter) that Golden State is eyeing at least four different bigs. The team has its $17MM+ trade exception and the $5.7MM taxpayer mid-level exception available to acquire veterans later this week.

Here are a few more NBA draft-night notes and rumors:

  • It sounds like Detroit’s long-reported interest in Patrick Williams was legit. The Pistons made an effort to trade up to No. 3 in order to leapfrog the Bulls for Williams, but the Hornets didn’t budge, sources tell Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link).
  • Deni Avdija has a small buyout to get out of his contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Avdija and the Wizards – who selected him at No. 9 – will pay that buyout. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer adds (via Twitter) that he’s surprised by Avdija slipping to ninth — the Bulls and Cavaliers both considered the Israeli forward at No. 4 and No. 5, per O’Connor.
  • NBA executives fully expect Aron Baynes to leave the Suns in free agency, opening the door for No. 10 pick Jalen Smith to fill Baynes’ role as a stretch big, tweets Kevin O’Connor. According to O’Connor, the Pelicans are a potential landing spot for Baynes.

Cavs Discussing No. 5 Pick With Knicks, Others

The Cavaliers are receiving interest in the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who reports that the Pistons (No. 7), Knicks (No. 8), and Celtics (No. 14) are among the teams that have engaged in discussions with Cleveland.

The Knicks just moved up from No. 27 to No. 23 in a trade with Utah and may try to package that pick with No. 8 in an attempt to improve their lottery pick, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Knicks and Cavs have been the two teams in the top eight most frequently connected to Dayton forward Obi Toppin, so it’s possible he could be the target on New York’s radar in a move up, though that’s not confirmed.

The Pistons, meanwhile, have been linked often to Florida State’s Patrick Williams. If he’s still on the board at No. 5, Detroit may have interest in moving up to land him — or to leapfrog Atlanta at No. 6 for Tyrese Haliburton, Fedor suggests.

According to Fedor, the Cavs have their eye on a number of players in the second tier of the draft, including Toppin, Haliburton, Deni Avdija, and Isaac Okoro, among others. Moving down to No. 7 or No. 8 could allow them to “declutter their options” while picking up an extra asset or two.

It’s unclear how interested the Cavaliers would be in moving all the way down to No. 14, which is Boston’s top first-rounder. Cleveland sees a drop in talent after the top 10 or 11 prospects in this year’s draft class, says Fedor. There has been some speculation about a possible Gordon Hayward trade involving the Cavs and Celtics, but it’s not clear if that’s something the two sides have even discussed.

Draft Rumors: Hornets, Ball, Wolves, Cavs, Achiuwa, Hawks, More

Assuming the Hornets keep the No. 3 pick in tonight’s NBA draft, team owner Michael Jordan has given the “stamp of approval” to select LaMelo Ball, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. James Wiseman has long been considered to be atop Charlotte’s wish list, but if he and Anthony Edwards are the first two players off the board, Ball may be the top prospect available.

O’Connor suggests that “at this stage” it seems as if USC big man Onyeka Okongwu is no longer in serious consideration for the Hornets at No. 3. It’s worth noting that ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his Hoop Collective podcast that there has been some medical-related chatter on Okongwu recently that could affect his stock, though Windhorst cautioned that may just be a smokescreen from a team with interest in him.

Here are several more rumors worth passing along, as we prepare for what should be an eventful 2020 NBA draft:

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) is hearing that the Timberwolves continue to operate as if they don’t want to pick at No. 1. Sources tell Wasserman that Minnesota is even signaling it could make a pick for another team – such as Wiseman for the Hornets – and try to figure out a deal later.
  • According to O’Connor, the Cavaliers are interested in potentially trading down a little and still selecting Dayton forward Obi Toppin, who has been linked to them frequently as a potential target at No. 5. O’Connor suggests the Pistons (No. 7) could be one potential trade partner for the Cavs if Detroit wants to move up to secure Florida State’s Patrick Williams.
  • Sources tell both O’Connor and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic that the Wizards (No. 9) are high on Memphis power forward Precious Achiuwa. Krawczynski says the Suns (No. 10) are “fond of” Achiuwa as well.
  • Conversations between the Hawks and Timberwolves about a swap that would send the No. 6 pick to Minnesota for No. 17 and Jarrett Culver have stalled, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Atlanta would be open to the idea, but the Wolves have become hesitant about moving Culver unless it helps them land a star, according to Kirschner and Krawczynski. Kirschner adds that talks between the Hawks and teams looking to move up in the draft have “cooled down” as of late.
  • While the Celtics have explored packaging their three first-round picks (Nos. 14, 26, and 30) to move into the mid-lottery, teams in that range have indicated they’d like to stay there, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.