Patrick Williams

Bulls Notes: Vucevic, Beverley, White, Ball, Williams

Bulls center Nikola Vucevic and guard Patrick Beverley exchanged words over a blown defensive assignment during Wednesday’s win over Detroit, prompting DeMar DeRozan to step in and smooth things out.

Following the argument, a source told Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that Vucevic “hasn’t been thrilled with some of the recent finger-pointing” among Bulls players (not just Beverley). However, when he spoke about the exchange on Friday, Vucevic said it was “way blown out of proportion,” telling reporters that it was “honestly no big deal at all,” as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays.

“It was just arguing in the moment,” Vucevic said. “It wasn’t that big a deal. We talked about it. It happens every game. People always make a big deal out of when players argue on the court. That’s part of the game. We’re competitors. We’re trying to make the right play. Sometimes you don’t agree on the same thing in the moment. Talk it out and it’s over with. We never talked about it after.”

Asked whether he feels singled out for defensive lapses, Vucevic expressed some self awareness about his shortcomings on that end of the court, acknowledging that defense is “not the strongest” part of his game. However, he added that he believes he does some things well defensively.

“I always try to do my best at that end,” the big man said. “It’s something I’ve very aware of. I know what my limitations are on the floor and I try to stick to my strengths.”

Here’s more on the Bulls, who lost additional ground in the play-in race on Friday when they fell at home to Kevin Durant and the Suns:

  • In a column for NBC Sports Chicago, Johnson makes the case for why the Bulls should sign Coby White to a new contract when he reaches restricted free agency this summer. White has shown growth this season as a defender and ball-handler, according to Johnson, who adds that the fourth-year guard has never questioned or complained about his inconsistent role. Johnson wonders if a three- or four-year deal in the range of $12-14MM per year would make sense for both sides.
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said this week that he has been given no indication that Lonzo Ball‘s knee issues are career-threatening, but understands why that question has come up. “The point is well taken. It has been over a year, and he’s still not running,” Donovan said, per Cowley. “… I just feel really bad for him, and the problem is we’ve had a hard time getting it resolved. And there have been a lot of medical people involved. Doctors trying to figure out what is going on, what is causing the pain? Basically getting him to a place where he can run and do certain things athletically.”
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes a closer look at the off-court development occurring this season for former lottery pick Patrick Williams, who is becoming more confident and “finding his voice” in the Bulls’ locker room. “I just think it comes with me growing as a person and as a player,” Williams said. “Being more comfortable in who I am and being more comfortable in what I can be, that’s a huge part of it. Just feeling like I know what I can be and realizing my potential.”
  • In case you missed it, the Bulls filled the open spot on their 15-man roster on Friday by promoting Carlik Jones from his two-way contract.

Bulls Notes: Drummond, White, Caruso, Williams

Bulls center Andre Drummond is averaging a career-low 12.8 minutes per game, but he’s making the most of his limited playing time. As K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes, when he racked up 15 points and 11 rebounds on Thursday vs. Charlotte, Drummond became the first player since Daryl Dawkins in 1979 to reach those statistical benchmarks while playing no more than 15 minutes.

“Am I OK with it? I’m never OK with it,” Drummond said of his modest role. “At the end of the day, I’m a basketball player and I want to play.

“But the circumstances that I’m in, I have to work my way back to where I want to get to. There are certain routes I have to take to get there. Me being a good teammate and showing guys that I’m here to do whatever it takes to help this team win is what’s going to help me get there. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Drummond, who last summer signed a two-year, $6.6MM contract that includes a second-year player option, is a candidate to be moved before next Thursday’s trade deadline. After reporting last month that it might be a quiet deadline for the Bulls, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times reiterated that point earlier this week, but said the team may still make a roster tweak or two, such as a deal involving Drummond.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • As of Friday, the Bulls were taking more calls than they were making, according to Cowley, who hears from one league executive that the team’s asking price remains “very high.” That applies not only to Chicago’s stars, but also to role players like Alex Caruso and Coby White.
  • League sources say the Bulls have turned down some overtures for White, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes within a breakdown of the team’s top trade assets. Mayberry acknowledges that uncertainty about Lonzo Ball‘s status going forward may be an important factor in Chicago’s reluctance to move White — it’s still unclear whether the team considers the fourth-year guard a keeper beyond this season, when he’ll reach free agency.
  • Caruso (left midfoot soreness) and Patrick Williams (right ankle sprain) left Thursday’s game early after suffering injuries, as Ryan Taylor of NBC Sports Chicago writes. However, it doesn’t sound like either ailment is serious — both players are listed as questionable to play vs. Portland on Saturday night.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Team Meeting, Green, Williams

Bulls guard Zach LaVine has been playing through a right hand contusion, and it has been affecting his performance. Including Tuesday’s loss to Indiana, in which Chicago blew a 21-point lead, LaVine has gone 6-of-36 (16.7%) from three-point range over his past five games.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago asked him about his struggles after the game.

I’m playing with a messed-up finger obviously on my shooting hand,” LaVine said. “You can see by the numbers I’m not shooting the ball well from three. I can still get to the cup and shoot free throws, shoot mid-range. Obviously, you can see by the numbers it’s affecting my shot. But it’s not going to keep me from trying to go out there and help and contribute.”

As Johnson notes, LaVine wasn’t on the injury report prior to the game and was previously only listed as probable after suffering the injury on January 11. The 27-year-old is getting regular treatment and is playing with a brace, and while he says it’s painful at times, he’s not using it as an excuse.

If I’m out there, I’m healthy enough to play,” he said, per Johnson.

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • The Bulls held a team meeting after their three-game win streak came to an end in disappointing fashion against Indiana on Tuesday night, but it remains to be seen whether it will help get the team out of a cycle of inconsistency and mediocrity, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “Honestly, there’s not much to be said,” Nikola Vucevic said after the Bulls were outscored by 22 points in the second half of a six-point loss. “There’s nothing you can say. It’s just a lot of frustration. We did all the talking. So we’ve just got to do it or this is where we’re going to be.”
  • There’s still some uncertainty surrounding Javonte Green‘s recovery following knee surgery, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times relays. The Bulls forward has yet to resume running or jumping, according to head coach Billy Donovan. “I’ll probably get a better idea of where he’s at physically once they say he can get on the court and start moving around a little bit, but he has not been able to do any of that,” Donovan said.
  • Former fourth overall pick Patrick Williams hasn’t necessarily developed at the rate the Bulls had hoped, but the team views performances like Monday’s 18-point, 10-rebound showing as a sign that he’s continuing to move forward, even if the progress is slow, Cowley writes for The Sun-Times. “One of the most versatile players on this team,” DeMar DeRozan said of Williams. “Once he gets comfortable and realizes what he’s doing now it’s going to help us even more.”

Rory Maher contributed to this post.

Bulls Rumors: Williams, Caruso, White, Vucevic, DeRozan, Dosunmu

Based on his conversations with executives around the NBA, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype doesn’t believe Patrick Williams or Alex Caruso are on the trade block for the Bulls, as he told guest K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago in the latest episode of the HoopsHype podcast.

One executive who spoke to Scotto suggested the Bulls may have “devalued” Williams by holding onto him until now, but Johnson questions whether the No. 4 overall pick really had a ton of value last season or this past summer, given that a major injury limited him to 17 games in 2021/22.

Johnson and Scotto agree that Caruso would bring back a strong return if the Bulls were to make him available, with Johnson suggesting that Chicago could probably get a first-round pick and a player in exchange for the defensive-minded guard.

However, Johnson still believes the Bulls are more likely to buy than sell at the trade deadline. In that scenario, Johnson believes Coby White would be in whatever package Chicago sends out, perhaps packaged with Portland’s lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick. The Grizzlies previously had interest in White, Johnson adds, though it’s unclear if Memphis would still be a suitor at this point.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The general consensus among executives around the league, according to Scotto, is that the Bulls are likely to keep center Nikola Vucevic beyond this season. The veteran center wouldn’t have a ton of value on the trade market and there’s a belief that Chicago won’t want to lose him for nothing in free agency after giving up so much to acquire him from Orlando.
  • Johnson would be surprised if the Bulls move any of their Big Three at this season’s deadline, but suggests DeMar DeRozan would have the most trade value and that Zach LaVine would also draw interest. Johnson notes that Chicago will face an interesting decision on DeRozan this summer, since he’ll be entering a contract year and “you can bet” he’ll be seeking an extension.
  • One NBA exec, speaking to Scotto, had the following to say about Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu, who can be a restricted free agent this summer: “Nobody will put a big offer sheet on him. His situation reminds me of Josh Hart. He could get that type of contract or bet on himself and take the qualifying offer.” As a restricted free agent in 2021, Hart signed a three-year, $38MM contract that wasn’t fully guaranteed; Johnson believes Dosunmu could end up with a three- or four-year deal in the range of $10-12MM per year.

Central Notes: Williams, Donovan, Jackson, Grant, Pistons

Bulls forward Patrick Williams, the fourth overall pick of the 2020 draft, might not be progressing at the rate that many had hoped, but he is still improving, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The 21-year-old scored a season-high 22 points on just eight shot attempts in Wednesday’s victory over Brooklyn. He also contributed seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.

I’m just maturing in this league,” Williams said. “That [wrist] surgery last year cost me, what? Sixty-some [65] games? But where it cost me was the experience, playing. So I’m trying to learn on the fly and get better. And to be honest with you, I’m enjoying this maturation process. Maybe not everyone else is enjoying how quickly it’s happening, but my mindset has changed a lot lately and I feel like so has the mindset of my teammates.”

Williams, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason, is averaging 9.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 0.9 BPG on .462/.411/.929 shooting through 38 games (28.7 MPG).

Here’s more from the Central:

  • There has been some talk of Zach LaVine being frustrated about not getting his number called in clutch situations at the end of games, even though he publicly said he was fine with DeMar DeRozan getting most of those looks. Bulls head coach Billy Donovan pushed back on the notion that LaVine isn’t involved in his late-game plays, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).
  • Pacers big man Isaiah Jackson has been out of the rotation lately, so he’s temporarily heading to the G League to get more playing time with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters, including Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). The Pacers tweaked their starting lineup to go small, starting three guards and Aaron Nesmith at power forward, which moved Jalen Smith to backup center and cut into Jackson’s minutes. Jackson, who turns 21 next week, was the 22nd pick of the 2021 draft.
  • Forward Jerami Grant was traded to Portland in the offseason, but he appreciated his time with the Pistons, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscriber link). “I think it was a very important step in my career,” Grant said. “For me, just going (to Detroit) and being able to kind of spread my wings and show people what I can do. Not just on the defensive end, but also on the offensive end. I think it opened a lot of people’s eyes going there. I’m grateful for Detroit and (general manager) Troy (Weaver).”

Bulls Notes: Williams, Future, Big Three, Caruso

Bulls power forward Patrick Williams has been re-enlisted as a starter with Javonte Green now hurt, though he’ll likely be demoted again when Green returns, writes Annie Costabile of The Chicago Sun-Times.

“We’ll probably put [Green] back in the starting lineup [when he’s healthy] to see what that looks like,” Chicago head coach Billy Donovan said. Even though Williams will be returning to the bench soon, teammates have noticed that he appears to be growing more assertive and confident of late.

“I made a joke one day, if he gets a tech in a game, I’ll pay for his tech… because he doesn’t make any expressions,” All-Star Chicago small forward DeMar DeRozan said, hoping to inspire some more on-court aggression from the 2020 No. 4 draft pick out of FSU.

There’s more out of Chicago:

  • At 10-14 on the season, the Bulls seem to be in a bit of a no man’s land when it comes to their short- and long-term futures, opines Bobby Marks of ESPN. After a successful roster overhaul in 2021 led to a fast start, major injuries to Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Zach LaVine sank the Bulls in the Eastern Conference standings. The team lost 15 of their final 22 games during the 2021/22 season. Marks notes that, with the Bulls now low on assets after offloading several picks in that eventful 2021 summer, they’re closer to the bottom of the East than the top, and may have more luck trading their best players to get worse than they would trading their limited future draft picks to get better.
  • The Bulls’ Big Three of LaVine, DeRozan, and center Nikola Vucevic all scored 25 or more points to help Chicago close out the Wizards yesterday. This collective success represents exactly what head coach Donovan hoped for when he issued a challenge to the team’s three top scorers last month to mount a simultaneous combined effort, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “We’re definitely capable,” DeRozan said. “There will be games where other guys come up big for us and take the weight off us having to score. It will vary. As long as we stay aggressive and compete our butt off, I think we’ll be fine.”
  • Caruso, recently elevated to the Bulls’ starting lineup ahead of second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu, has earned rave reviews from his coaches and colleagues, Johnson writes in another piece. “He changes the whole game,” DeRozan said. “AC could have four points. But take him out of the game and the game is completely different… He’s a helluva competitor and a helluva person. It’s hard to find teammates like that. The appreciation he has for the game is such a contagious thing. When you’re around him, you feel that joy.”

Central Notes: Diakite, Dosunmu, Williams, LaVine, Nembhard

With Dean Wade out three or four weeks with a shoulder injury, the Cavaliers started Mamadi Diakite against the Knicks on Sunday, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Diakite made one previous start this season as a fill-in for Jarrett Allen. The third-year big man out of Virginia, who went scoreless in 11 minutes, is on a two-way deal.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls coach Billy Donovan moved Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu to the second unit and Donovan believes it could facilitate their development, particularly the young power forward, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “This may actually help his development, putting him in some situations where he can be a little more aggressive. I still think the development part for him is in place,” Donovan said.
  • Despite the lineup changes, the Bulls aren’t going anywhere unless Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic do a better job of blending their talents, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. LaVine concurs with that assessment. “Coach got to make his decisions, but you know the best players on the team, we got to be the ones that make the plays,” LaVine said. “On bad days, take the criticism. Good days, make sure to help us win. Play defense. Make the shot. That’s what you do. That’s why you’re in position to do this. It’s a player-driven league. I think it always starts from top to bottom.”
  • Andrew Nembhard has been a solid presence at both ends for the Pacers during his rookie campaign, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes. The Pacers signed the first pick of the second round to a four-year deal that is fully guaranteed for three full seasons and $6.4MM, a record amount for a second-rounder coming out of college. Nembhard, who hit a game-winning 3-pointer against the Lakers, is averaging 7.4 PPG and 3.4 APG in 21.9 MPG.
  • Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton missed Sunday’s game due to a sore groin, Agness tweets. It’s the first game he missed since being acquired from Sacramento last season.

Bulls Notes: Lineup, Williams, Dosunmu, Donovan

The Bulls made a change to their starting lineup on Friday against Golden State, replacing Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams with Alex Caruso and Javonte Green.

The new-look starting lineup didn’t exactly set the world on fire – the five-man group was outscored by seven points in just over 10 minutes of action – but head coach Billy Donovan said he liked what he saw and doesn’t expect it will just be a one-game tweak, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. He added that it wasn’t a defensive-minded move to try to slow down the high-powered Warriors.

“It was more to see, ‘Let’s see what this looks like,'” Donovan said, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I’m always evaluating and you’re not trying to make a decision after two or three games. But I think there’s a pretty decent body of work for the number of games we played. And I just wanted to take a look at something different.”

Dosunmu and Williams remained in the rotation, logging 21 and 19 minutes respectively, and Donovan said he appreciated how they handled the new roles.

“I understand there’s always a level of prestige with starting. I get all that. But I also think those guys see a bigger picture,” Donovan said. “It’s not like I said to them, ‘Hey listen, I’m moving you out of the starting lineup and you’re out of the rotation.’ I was really pleased with the way both responded. They’re team guys. They want to win. I’m sure in their heart of hearts want to start. But I also think the team is more important to them.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Donovan is hoping that the move to the second unit will encourage Williams, a former No. 4 overall pick, to avoid getting passive on offense. “The one thing we’ve been trying to do is to try to get him to be more aggressive,” Donovan said, per Johnson. “I think being out there with three terrific offensive players in Zach (LaVine) and Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) and DeMar (DeRozan), sometimes there aren’t as many opportunities. I told him in doing this I wanted him to be more aggressive offensively, that he was going to need to be somebody who could give that group a little bit of a pop. I look at it that this may actually help his development.”
  • Although the Bulls were pleased that Dosunmu and Williams accepted the lineup change without complaint, LaVine suggested that his teammates should view their demotions as a challenge. “I don’t think they should be happy or satisfied with it at all,” LaVine said, according to Johnson.
  • Writing for The Sun-Times, Cowley questions why Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf kept a lid on the contract extension that Donovan signed with the team before the season began, arguing that it’s a disservice to fans to try to keep that sort of move under wraps.
  • Donovan’s extension is a reflection of how the connection between him and president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has grown in recent years, according to Johnson, who notes that the two men speak almost daily and says there’s “never any misunderstanding in their shared, direct conversation.”

Bulls Notes: Williams, Caruso, Inconsistent Output

The play of 21-year-old Bulls starting power forward Patrick Williams has steadily improved month-over-month this season, and the 6’7″ forward out of FSU registered his excitement about that growth, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

As Johnson observes, Williams averaged 7.1 PPG and 2.0 RPG while shooting 35.3% on 2.4 threes per game in October. He is putting up 11.3 PPG and 5.2 RPG thus far in November, while connecting on 50% of his 3.3 long-range looks a night this month.

“I think I’m still figuring it out,” Williams said of his play. “But I’m 100 percent locked in on being the player that I want to be… I always felt I had what it took to be a really good player in this league. But now I’m starting to feel like I have what it takes to be a star and a superstar in this league. I’m kind of trying to take that role on and build on it day-by-day… Kind of trying to take it in my own mind now and show that on the court.”

There’s more out of Chicago:

  • Bulls reserve guard Alex Caruso sprained his right ankle during Chicago’s overtime loss to the Thunder on Friday. He sat out the contact components of a team practice Sunday due to the injury, and is now questionable to play for Chicago against the Jazz on Monday, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I just know there was a point in regulation where I could tell his foot was bothering him,” head coach Billy Donovan said regarding the timing of the injury. “The last 2 minutes of overtime, it looked like he planted and I could tell he winced pretty severely. He said, ‘You gotta take me out.’ He didn’t feel like he could move well enough.”
  • The 8-11 Bulls have had an up-and-down season thus far. Chicago is continuing to strive for steadier output this season, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley notes that the team’s middling record belies some of its more impressive performances, including a pair of victories over the Celtics and wins over the Bucks, Raptors and Heat. Losing several close games in 2022/23 has cost Chicago. “I think that’s just where we are,” All-Star small forward DeMar DeRozan said. “Kind of went through so many emotions already 20 games into the season. Sometimes you’ve got to soak in that hurt and kind of generate that to being competitors, and that’s where I think we are now.’’ The team is hoping to stack up some wins on the remaining four games of its road trip, but will have to do so against several postseason-contending Western Conference clubs in the Jazz, Suns, Warriors, and Kings.
  • In case you missed it, All-Star Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine was initially upset at being benched late in the fourth quarter last week, during an eventual 108-107 loss to the Magic. LaVine later clarified that he holds no ill will toward Donovan for the benching.

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, Vucevic, Williams, Drummond

It has been hard to know what to expect from the Bulls on a night-to-night basis so far this season.

After capping a four-game losing streak with a home loss to Orlando last Friday, the team had its two best wins of the season on Monday in Boston and Wednesday in Milwaukee. The win over the Bucks was Chicago’s best defensive outing of the year, as Darnell Mayberry wrote for The Athletic.

However, the Bulls followed up those two statement games with a letdown performance on Friday, falling in overtime to Oklahoma City.

According to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, head coach Billy Donovan had braced for some up and downs in the early part of this season as the club tried to move away from leaning so heavily on DeMar DeRozan‘s isolation-heavy offense and late-game heroics.

“DeMar took us as far as he can take us (last season), and we really have to look at, OK, how can we make another step or jump?” Donovan said. “If we get back to that, where it’s all (isolations) all the time, it just gets too easy to defend. This is going to take some time offensively for us to play the way we need to play, which is a little bit different.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The 2021 deadline trade that sent Nikola Vucevic to Chicago has netted the Magic a pair of potential building blocks (Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr.), with another lightly protected first-round pick still to come. Still, Vucevic isn’t worried about the critics who wish the Bulls hadn’t made the deal. “I know some people want to bring back the trade, the picks that were given, but it happened,” Vucevic told Cowley of The Sun-Times. “If it didn’t, it’s not for sure the Bulls would have picked Wagner or hit on the pick. Who knows what would have happened?” As Cowley observes, without the Vucevic trade, it’s also not clear whether free agents DeRozan and Lonzo Ball would’ve chosen Chicago later in 2021.
  • It has taken some time for former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams to get comfortable at the NBA level, but the third-year forward finally seems to be finding a rhythm, according to Cowley, who writes for The Sun-Times that Williams hasn’t looked as passive recently as he did during the first few weeks of the season.
  • Although two-time All-Star Andre Drummond is averaging a career-low 15.4 minutes per game this season, he has no intention of pushing for more playing time as long as the Bulls believe his limited role gives them the best chance to win games. “I’m at a point now where I’m just focusing on winning,” Drummond said this week, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I told Billy and the guys when I came here from the beginning: ‘Whatever you guys need me to do to help win, that’s what I’m willing to do.’ If that’s to play eight minutes, 12 minutes, 30 minutes, I’m able to do that. I’m cool with the role that I have. I just have to maintain it.”