Patrick Williams

Central Notes: Pistons Draft, Davis, Gobert, Eason

Jaden Ivey‘s lack of a mid-range game might give the Pistons some pause if he’s available with No. 5 pick, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. Keegan Murray may not be flashy but he’s an efficient scorer who be a great option for playmaker Cade Cunningham, according to Edwards, who examines the fit of the options at the No. 5 pick.

We have more from the Central Division:

Zach LaVine Likely To Re-Sign With Bulls

Despite rumors that Zach LaVine plans to talk with other teams in free agency, the most likely scenario has him re-signing with the Bulls, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

LaVine is expected to receive a new five-year contract valued at around $200MM, according to Fischer, who notes that the only significant point of contention is the status of the final year of the deal. It could be fully or partially guaranteed, or LaVine could be given a player option.

The Trail Blazers, Spurs, Hawks and Lakers are all expected to reach out to LaVine, but Fischer doesn’t believe any of those teams can provide the two-time All-Star with a better situation than what he has in Chicago. LaVine wants to be the sole focal point of the offense, which hasn’t happened since the Bulls added DeMar DeRozan last summer, but he wouldn’t get that in Portland, Atlanta or L.A. It’s something San Antonio could offer, but the Spurs aren’t among the top contenders in the West.

Upgrading the frontcourt will be an offseason priority in Chicago, according to Fischer. His sources say the team is listening to offers for Nikola Vucevic, who has a $22MM expiring contract, and has expressed interest in Jazz center Rudy Gobert, although the club’s  reluctance to part with Patrick Williams may prevent a deal from being worked out with Utah.

The Bulls are also exploring trades involving third-year point guard Coby White, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension, and the No. 18 pick in next week’s draft, Fischer adds.

Fischer’s Latest: Gobert, Jazz, Bulls, P. Williams, Snyder, Spurs

Confirming a pair of earlier reports, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report states that the Jazz haven’t entertained inquiries on Donovan Mitchell, but have been willing to engage in talks involving Rudy Gobert, with the Bulls among the potential suitors for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

According to Fischer, a Bulls offer for Gobert would – as expected – start with center Nikola Vucevic. The “popular package” discussed by various league executives would also include Patrick Williams, according to Fischer, who notes that the Jazz have long been seeking a wing defender like the former No. 4 overall pick.

However, as Fischer writes, the Bulls weren’t interested in discussing Williams during in-season trade talks for Jerami Grant, so it remains to be seen how open they’d be to including him in an offer for Gobert. If Williams is off the table, adding Coby White and Javonte Green would work from a salary-matching perspective, Fischer observes, but presumably the Jazz would be seeking a more substantial return for one of their two All-Stars.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • The Jazz offered Quin Snyder a variety of contract structures in an effort to keep him in Utah, but those offers were rebuffed, with Snyder deciding it was time to move on. The expectation in league circles is that Snyder – who is highly regarded by Spurs CEO R.C. Buford – would be the leading candidate for the coaching job in San Antonio when Gregg Popovich steps down, says Fischer.
  • The Jazz are still working on their list of head coaching targets and will begin to formally reach out to candidates in the coming days, according to Fischer. One of the names included in the team’s preliminary list of candidates was Terry Stotts, who has the same representation as Snyder and spent several weeks around the Jazz in 2021/22, Fischer notes.
  • While there’s some skepticism around the NBA about how much Jazz CEO Danny Ainge will cater to Donovan Mitchell, Ainge isn’t viewed as someone who “scours the market of the NBA’s up-and-coming head coaches,” Fischer writes. In other words, if Mitchell and team owner Ryan Smith both want to bring in former Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant as Snyder’s replacement, Ainge likely wouldn’t stand in the way, sources tell Fischer.

Eastern Notes: Smart, Hill, Harris, Bulls

The Celtics only have one player listed on the injury report for Game 2 against the Bucks on Tuesday but it’s a significant one. Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart is questionable due to a right quad contusion, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

“He’s a tough guy who’s going to try to play through things,” coach Ime Udoka said. “We’ll get him some treatment (Monday) and see how he feels tomorrow.”

Smart was already dealing with the injury entering Game 1, then took a couple of hits to that area.

It’s more than just pain tolerance. It’s tightness and restriction of movement as well,” Udoka said.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Bucks guard George Hill won’t play in Game 2, coach Mike Budenholzer told Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link) and other media members. Hill has an abdominal injury. “He was doing a vitamin, doing some individual work,” Budenholzer said. “He’s doing a little bit more in his vitamins, but not anything significant or any kind of new update.”
  • Tobias Harris is no longer the weakest link on the Sixers’ defensive unit, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic writes. Rather, teams are trying to attack other defenders while staying away from Harris. The addition of James Harden and emergence of Tyrese Maxey has reduced Harris’ offensive stats but he’s contributing at the other end. “I definitely have more energy to go and guard somebody,” Harris quipped.
  • Zach LaVine‘s unrestricted free agency and Patrick Williams‘ development are among the offseason questions looming over the Bulls, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, LaVine, Continuity, Williams, White

Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan says he has no doubt that All-Star teammate Zach LaVine deserves a max contract this summer, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. As an unrestricted free agent with seven years of experience, LaVine is eligible for a five-year deal from Chicago worth approximately $212MM.

Yeah. Max player, max talent, max everything,” DeRozan said when asked if LaVine is a max-worthy player after the Bulls’ season-ending loss to the Bucks Wednesday night. “He’s one of those players in this league that you don’t see too often. I tell him all the time how envious I am of the things he’s able to do. He deserves everything that’s coming to him for sure.”

DeRozan added that LaVine is extremely competitive in everything he does, on and off the court.

(He’s) just the ultimate competitor,” DeRozan said of LaVine. “That’s the best way I can sum it up. No matter what it is. I remember, we played tic tac toe on the plane, and I kept beating him and he wouldn’t leave me alone until he beat me. And that’s just him on the court as well.”

Here’s more from Chicago:

  • Center Nikola Vucevic said the front office and coaches stressed continuity in his season-ending exit interview following the team’s playoff ouster. “They want to have continuity, that’s for sure,” Vucevic said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “As far as moves they can make, I don’t really know that. That’s their job.”
  • DeRozan also believes the team’s core will return next season, but that doesn’t mean management won’t look to improve the roster if the opportunity presents itself (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago). “Just like we’re competitors, they are as well — for the right reasons,” DeRozan said.
  • Forward Patrick Williams says he’s looking to improve his consistency next season and has studied DeRozan’s habits to learn how to prepare as a pro. For his part, DeRozan says he plans to invite Williams and other teammates to work out with him in L.A. this summer (all Twitter links courtesy of Johnson and Schaefer from NBC Sports Chicago).
  • Coby White, who’s eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer, said management told him to keep working on his ball-handling and to build up his strength in order to become a better defender, as Schaefer relays (via Twitter).

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, Nembhard, P. Williams, Key, Vildoza

Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was fined $15K on Monday for his public criticism of the league’s officiating, the NBA announced in a press release. Bickerstaff griped about the foul calls on Sunday following a 112-108 loss to Philadelphia in which James Harden and Joel Embiid combined to attempt 32 free throws.

“We deserved to win that game. That game was taken from us,” Bickerstaff said, per Chris Fedor of “We did a great job defensively, making their two best players have a difficult time from the field. But one thing you can’t defend is the free throw line. That’s absurd. That’s absurd. Our guys deserve way better than what they got tonight.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • RJ Nembhard‘s new contract with the Cavaliers is a straight-up conversion from his two-way deal, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Nembhard, who will earn $58,493 on the prorated minimum-salary contract, remains on track for restricted free agency this offseason.
  • Having returned from a wrist injury on March 21, Patrick Williams is playing increasingly well for the Bulls as the postseason nears, according to Cole Huff of The Athletic, who says the second-year forward has been “efficient and opportunistic” on offense while showcasing his usual versatility on the defensive end. Having already displayed the potential to be a long-term cornerstone in Chicago, Williams could help in the short term too and be an asset in the playoffs if he keeps progressing, Huff writes.
  • Braxton Key‘s new two-way contract with the Pistons is a two-year agreement, covering 2022/23 as well as the rest of this season, league sources tell our JD Shaw (Twitter link).
  • Luca Vildoza‘s two-year deal with the Bucks will be non-guaranteed for next season, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

Bulls Notes: Caruso, Ball, Struggles, Williams, White

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said Alex Caruso is dealing with back spasms, which is why the guard asked to come out in the third quarter of Saturday’s 127-109 loss to Miami (Twitter link from Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago). Donovan said “it’s a problem” right now, but it’s not expected to sideline Caruso long-term.

Caruso might be rested during the last four games of the regular season depending on how he’s feeling, Donovan said. Caruso has been working hard to stay on the court by going through treatment, but the back spasms are hampering him at the moment.

Donovan also said the team is trying to slowly work Lonzo Ball back up to sprinting and cutting, but he’s not full speed yet. Donovan expects to know more on Ball’s progress by Tuesday or Wednesday, as Schaefer relays (via Twitter).

Ball hasn’t played since January 14 after suffering a bone bruise and torn meniscus in his left knee, which required surgery. He was originally projected to miss six-to-eight weeks, but he’s now nine-plus weeks removed from surgery. He’s still dealing with the bone bruise and had some discomfort a couple weeks ago.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The Bulls’ struggles against top-tier teams continued on Saturday when they lost to Miami, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago is a combined 0-17 against the Heat, Bucks, Sixers, Suns, Grizzlies and Warriors. The Bulls are currently 45-33, the No. 6 seed in the East. They trail the Raptors, winners of five straight, by a half-game for the No. 5 seed.
  • Second-year forward Patrick Williams recently had his minutes restriction lifted, but Donovan said he’s not going to be handed minutes just because he’s healthy, Cowley writes in a separate story. “When [people] are sitting here, ‘Well, play him 30 minutes,’ sometimes he’s not ready for that,” Donovan said. “I get a chance to be around him every single day and talk to him, and there’s things he’s trying to figure out along the way, too. You want to put him in a position where he can be successful. I have to keep on trusting him. . . . Like, I had to get on him at halftime [Thursday] about, ‘You have to do more.’ It’s got to get to a point where for him it’s more instinctive, where he’s doing it a little more on his own.” Williams missed most of the season after undergoing left wrist surgery.
  • With Caruso, Ball and Zach LaVine (sore knee) all dealing with injuries, the Bulls need more production from Coby White, according to Cowley. In 39 games (28.2 MPG) leading up to the All-Star break, White was averaging 14.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 2.8 APG on .453/.401/.840 shooting, but he’s been in a bad slump ever since — his averages have dipped to 9.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 3.1 APG on .383/.314/1.000 shooting in 19 games (25.3 MPG) post-break. He went 0-of-9 on Saturday, including 0-of-7 from deep.

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, Williams, Ball, Vucevic

With Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid putting up monster numbers on a near-nightly basis and the Bulls struggling in recent weeks, DeMar DeRozan isn’t getting the same level of MVP buzz he was earlier in the season. However, his 50-point outburst on Thursday in a win over the Clippers was a reminder of how important he has been to the Bulls this season, writes Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune.

DeRozan said after the game that he was more focused on getting the victory than on becoming the sixth player in team history to score 50 points in a game, since Chicago can’t afford to risk falling into play-in territory.

“The win is more meaningful,” DeRozan said, per Sullivan. “I just wanted to win this game, badly. You see how tight the (Eastern Conference) race is. Every game is extremely important. We have no more room to be dropping any more games.”

The Bulls’ 45-32 record puts them in fifth place in the East, 1.5 games behind the No. 4 Sixers and just a half-game ahead of the No. 6 Raptors. Chicago has a three-game lead on the No. 7 Cavs, so barring a disaster down the stretch, the team should secure a top-six seed and a guaranteed playoff spot.

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • Patrick Williams admitted to reporters on Thursday that he was fined by the Bulls after being late to the team’s morning shootaround, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Williams, who hadn’t made much of an impact since returning from a wrist injury on March 21, made up for his tardiness with his best game of the season on Thursday, putting up 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds.
  • After having his rehab process paused for 10 days, Lonzo Ball will resume the ramp-up process toward full-speed sprinting and cutting, head coach Billy Donovan said on Thursday (link via Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago). Time is running out for Ball to return this season, but the Bulls haven’t considered shutting him down. “Certainly every day that goes by and time that passes by, you know, you’re moving closer and closer to the end of the season,” Donovan said. “But I have not gotten anything from the doctors that said to me, like, ‘Listen, there’s just not enough time, we can’t get him back.’ They’re gonna do everything they can to try to get him back. But a lot’s gonna be depending on how he responds to this.”
  • In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago discussed several Bulls-related topics, including Williams’ development and ceiling and Nikola Vucevic‘s future in Chicago.

Central Notes: Williams, Caruso, Pistons Offseason, Hayes

After being sidelined with a wrist injury since October, Bulls power forward Patrick Williams seems happy to be back on the floor for Chicago in any capacity. Though Williams was a starter in his five games pre-injury this season, head coach Billy Donovan has opted to play him off the bench during his first two games back this week. Williams does not mind the switch, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I’m fine with it, as long as I can contribute to the team,” Williams said ahead of his first game back with the Bulls, an eventual 113-99 win over the Raptors on Monday. “I plan on being in this league for a long time. Sitting out for five months, I may not be able to show everything. But just help the team win in any way (I can)… I think winning takes care of everything. If we win, everybody’s happy. No matter how many points you scored, no matter how many minutes you played, everybody’s happy. If you get a ring, everybody gets a ring.”

Williams proved a key contributor even in limited minutes during that victory against the Raptors, and reiterated his excitement about returning to the floor in his postgame comments, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

“It was amazing,” Williams said. “Just having something taken from you for so long, something that you love and finally being able to get it back and enjoy the game, there’s really nothing like it.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Donovan has opted to make a change in his starting rotation with Bulls starting point guard Lonzo Ball still shelved and reserve guard Alex Caruso back healthy. Though a good defender, rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu has been demoted to the bench in favor of the more experienced Caruso, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I just felt like since Alex had his legs under him a little bit, starting off with that group defensively could give us a little bit better energy,” Donovan explained. “AC is extremely smart and brings so much with IQ and defense and spacing the floor and shot making,’’ All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine said regarding the change. “With him moving into the [starting] lineup and Ayo going back [a reserve role], I think it’s going to be a switch up.”
  • The Pistons, the No. 15 seed in the East, have plenty of intriguing decisions facing them in the 2022 offseason. In a new mailbag, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic examines several key summer storylines. Edwards anticipates team president Troy Weaver possibly targeting a player with a handle in the draft or free agency to pair with rookie guard Cade Cunningham. Edwards also discusses his expectations for the future of forward Jerami Grant, as well as that of power forward Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft and a restricted free agent this summer.
  • Second-year Pistons guard Killian Hayes has struggled to develop this season amid injuries, per Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Since being shifted to a bench role, Hayes has at least been able to expect a certain amount of guaranteed run when he is available. “I’ve gotten used to coming off the bench at the five- or six-minute mark but starting and just getting back to that rhythm, it’s right into the game,” Hayes said. “You don’t have time to go back to the locker room and see how the game goes, so just be ready. I think I’m ready for both (starting and reserve roles).”

Patrick Williams Cleared To Play Monday

Bulls forward Patrick Williams will return Monday after missing most of the season with torn ligaments in his left wrist, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Williams, who underwent surgery in late October, may play in both ends of a back-to-back against the Raptors and Bucks, adds K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). The Bulls are eager to get playing time for Williams over the final three weeks of the regular season.

He was cleared for full contact earlier this week and has been practicing with the team’s Windy City G League affiliate. There were originally plans for him to play in today’s G League game, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link), but the Bulls opted to recall him instead and use him on Monday.

Williams hasn’t played since he suffered the injury in an October 28 game when he was hit by Knicks center Mitchell Robinson on a drive to the basket. There were originally fears that Williams might be sidelined for the entire season, but he was able to return in less than five months.

The No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft, Williams became an instant starter in Chicago, providing a steady defensive presence at power forward. Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr. have played well in his absence, and coach Billy Donovan indicated recently that he won’t rush Williams back into the starting lineup.