Patrick Williams

Central Notes: Giannis, Turner, Sword, Bulls

Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t directly threatening to leave the Bucks, but he hinted at that option this week during an appearance on the 48 Minutes podcast (YouTube video link). The two-time MVP said he enjoys playing in Milwaukee, but his priority is winning another championship and he’s willing to go elsewhere if he decides it’s necessary.

“I’m a Milwaukee Buck, but most importantly I’m a winner,” Antetokounmpo said. “… If there is a better situation for me to win the Larry O’Brien (trophy), I have to take that better situation.”

Antetokounmpo made similar comments last month, saying he would like to play 20 years with the same team, but “being a winner” is more important to him.

Antetokounmpo will become eligible for a five-year extension next summer that could be worth up to $334MM, which would be the largest contract in NBA history. He also holds a $51.9MM player option for 2025/26, so he’ll have the equivalent of an expiring contract for the following season if he doesn’t accept the extension.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Appearing on Tidal League’s “Run Your Race” podcast with Theo Pinson, Myles Turner expressed regret that he wasn’t ready to assume the role of team leader after the Pacers traded Paul George in 2017 (hat tip to FanSided). “The beginning of that year, I got hurt. I got a concussion,” Turner recalled. “I was out for like two and a half weeks. So I missed the first two and a half weeks of the season, (and) Vic (Victor Oladipo) was going crazy. Hitting game-winners. Averaging like 20 a game. Domas (Domantas Sabonis) was like 20 and 10.” Turner added that he’s grateful to get another chance to be a leader with the current version of the team.
  • The Pacers‘ G League affiliate has acquired returning player rights for guard Craig Sword. The Fort Wayne Mad Ants announced a deal with Capital City to land the rights to Sword, who played for the Warriors during Summer League.
  • Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic are considered stars under the NBA’s new Player Participation Policy, but the guidelines shouldn’t affect the Bulls very much, observes Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune. She notes that the team doesn’t rely much on load management, with Vucevic and Patrick Williams both appearing in all 82 games last season, while LaVine played in 70 of the last 71 after working his way back from offseason knee surgery.

Bulls Notes: Ball, Eversley, DeRozan, Williams

Lonzo Ball has confirmed he’ll miss the 2023/24 season, but the Bulls point guard expressed optimism that he’ll eventually overcome his knee issues and return to action, he said on the “From the Point by Trae Young podcast” (hat tip to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago).

Ball underwent cartilage transplant surgery in March.

“I just had a really big surgery—hopefully, the last one I ever have to get. It’s a long process. I’m already out this whole next season,” Ball said. “When I first got hurt, we didn’t really know what it was. I was seeing all type of different doctors and stuff. I was just kind of going up and down. That was really hard for me because I just didn’t know what the next day was going to be like. At least now, I got the surgery. We got a plan moving forward. We’ve been on plan. I’m on track.”

Chicago has already been granted a disabled player exception worth $10.23MM due to Ball’s inability to play in 2023/24.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • While many observers believe the Bulls’ current core group has a limited ceiling, general manager Marc Eversley says the front office has faith in the roster they’ve assembled. “I think for us as a front office, how we see our ceiling may be different than others,” he told Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “And the way we have operated is we’re going to operate this with our beliefs. We’ve all been to different places. We’ve seen what success looks like. We can’t run this operation based on what people may think the outcome may be. We trust each other.”
  • In the same interview, Eversley said they’d like to work out another contract agreement with DeMar DeRozan, who is heading into his walk year. “I would love DeMar to be part of this program long term. Let’s see how that plays out and what that looks like going forward,” he said. “When those conversations take place, we’ll speak about that more when that happens. But we hope Deebo’s back. He’s been an integral part of this program’s success. We hope he is here long term.” DeRozan will remain extension-eligible through next June 30.
  • Eversley also appeared on the Bulls Talk Podcast and hinted that the front office is taking a wait-and-see approach regarding power forward Patrick Williams‘ future, according to Johnson. Williams is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason. “He has shown flashes over the first three years. I want to see him show more instances of flashes, more consistent,” Eversley said. “He’s got it in him. A lot of that comes with growth off of the court. And I can tell you he’s starting to grow. He’s starting to get it. It’s starting to click. And when he puts it together—and he will put it together—we might have something special.”

Central Notes: Mitchell, Rubio, Cunningham, P. Williams

Donovan Mitchell is eligible for a contract extension this offseason, but there’s no indication that he and the Cavaliers intend to seriously discuss a new deal, and that shouldn’t be a cause for concern in Cleveland, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said during a recent NBA Today appearance (YouTube link).

“Maybe if the Cavs had won the championship last year, maybe Donovan would extend, but I don’t think under any (other) circumstances he was ever considering extending this season, and I think the Cavs knew that when they traded for him,” Windhorst said. “I think the pressure point comes a year from now, when he’s got one year left on his contract. … The Cavs have another year to see where their team is at and where Donovan sees that the Cavs are at.”

Mitchell actually has three seasons left on his current contract, but the final year is a player option, so he can reach free agency as early as 2025. That means he’ll essentially be entering a contract year next summer, which is why Windhorst refers to it as a “pressure point.” The Cavs’ performance – and Mitchell’s own play – in 2023/24 could go a long way toward determining whether the star guard is willing to sign a long-term extension with the team a year from now.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Although Ricky Rubio made his announcement about putting his career on hold for mental health reasons through the Spanish Basketball Federation, the Cavaliers were aware the news was coming and are “fully supportive” of the veteran point guard, sources tell Chris Fedor of It remains to be seen whether or not Rubio will be available for the Cavs when the NBA season begins this fall.
  • Pistons guard Cade Cunningham has been the standout player on the U.S. Select Team that has been competing against Team USA’s World Cup squad this week in Las Vegas and has beaten it in multiple scrimmages so far, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. While Cunningham’s play in those scrimmages is encouraging for the Pistons and their fans, the former No. 1 pick says he’s simply happy to be back to 100% after a leg injury limited him to 12 games in 2022/23. “I feel healthy again,” Cunningham said. “My leg isn’t a problem for me right now. So I think that’s the biggest difference, just that I can just play freely and not think about my body too much.”
  • Given Cunningham’s strong play in Vegas, it’s fair to wonder whether he should be a part of Team USA’s actual World Cup roster instead of the Select Team. A previous report indicated that the Pistons guard was invited to join the World Cup team, which Joe Vardon of The Athletic confirms. According to Vardon, Cunningham explained this week that a desire to manage his workload this summer ahead of his NBA return was the “deciding factor” in turning down that invitation.
  • While it’s unclear if former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams has shown enough in his first three NBA seasons to warrant a rookie scale extension from the Bulls this offseason, teammate DeMar DeRozan remains a big believer in Williams’ potential, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times details.

Bulls Notes: Luxury Tax, Rotation, Williams, Dosunmu

The Bulls will likely be close to the luxury tax threshold all season, but K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago doesn’t expect them to be willing to end the year in tax territory. Executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said on draft night that he would lobby ownership to pay the tax for a contender, but Johnson states that it’s hard to see him getting approval for a team that finished 10th in the East last season.

Johnson estimates that the Bulls are about $2.4MM away from tax territory with two open roster spots. He expects the team to unload point guard Carlik Jones, whose non-guaranteed $1.9MM salary is roughly the same as a veteran’s minimum contract, and try to get frontcourt help instead.

Johnson adds that filling both roster openings with minimum contracts would put Chicago slightly over the tax line. He expects management to keep one spot open heading into the season and see what opportunities become available to add players. The Bulls have about half of their $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception remaining, along with a $4.5MM bi-annual exception and a $10.2MM disabled player exception that was granted for Lonzo Ball‘s injury.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Billy Donovan‘s 10-man rotation appears set with training camp two months away, and the biggest questions seem to be who will start at point guard and power forward, Johnson adds in the same piece. If Donovan continues his emphasis on defense, Johnson expects newly acquired Torrey Craig to get the nod at power forward, with either Alex Caruso or free agent addition Jevon Carter running the point. The return of Derrick Jones Jr. or a free agent signing such as Rudy Gay could upend the current rotation, Johnson adds, possibly pushing out Andre Drummond.
  • Bulls officials want Patrick Williams to become more aggressive as he enters his fourth NBA season, according to Johnson. Williams returned from an injury to play all 82 games last season, and Johnson believes the organization should be patient with a player who won’t turn 22 until next month.
  • The Bulls may have slightly overpaid for Ayo Dosunmu, but keeping him on the roster was still a good move, contends Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The restricted free agent received $21MM over three years and now has to make a case for consistent playing time in a crowded backcourt.

Bulls Notes: White, Williams, Butler, Patton

If the Bulls bring back their core group for next season, which vice president Arturas Karnisovas has indicated that he plans to do, someone on the roster will have to show significant improvement for the team to move up the ladder in the East. Free agent Coby White is an obvious candidate if he can provide a long-term answer at point guard after the loss of Lonzo Ball to injury, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

White is one of the team’s best three-point shooters and a natural fit in the fast-paced style that coach Billy Donovan likes to play. He has shown improvement in his ball-handling and decision making during his four years in the NBA, Johnson adds, and he got better on defense last season.

“He’s a lot more equipped, I’d say, today to be maybe in that role than he was a few years ago,” Donovan said after the season ended. “So I’ve got a lot of confidence in Coby and just the way he’s gotten better. And he deserves all the credit. He’s the one who put all the work in.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Patrick Williams still has a lot of believers within the Bulls organization, but that doesn’t guarantee he’ll get a rookie scale extension this summer, Johnson said on the Bulls Talk podcast. Johnson notes that management typically takes a hard line in extension talks and suggests that the team might handle Williams the same way it did White, letting him play out his rookie contract and negotiating with him next summer as a restricted free agent.
  • Jimmy Butler‘s performance in leading the Heat to the NBA Finals is proving that the Bulls’ decision to trade him in 2017 was one of the worst moves in franchise history, claims Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Of the three players Chicago got in return, only Zach LaVine is left on the roster. Cowley states that the Bulls have missed Butler’s competitive fire, as have the Timberwolves and Sixers, who also let him go without getting equal value.
  • The Bulls plan to hire Peter Patton as a player development coach, Johnson tweets. The former DePaul standout has spent time as a shooting coach with the Timberwolves and Mavericks.

Bulls Notes: Karnisovas, Williams, Beverley, DeRozan

The Bulls recently signed executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas to an extension without any public fanfare, a source told Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Although Chicago is coming off a 40-42 season and a play-in tournament exit, Mayberry points out that Karnisovas still has a strong relationship with chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf.

Despite the extension, there’s reason to believe the organization’s faith in Karnisovas may be declining, Mayberry adds. He notes that Karnisovas has let the last three windows for improvement — the past two trade deadlines and the 2022 offseason — pass without a significant roster upgrade, leaving Chicago stuck as roughly a .500 team with no obvious way to improve.

There’s still confidence within the organization that things are headed in the right direction, according to Mayberry. Insiders cite a cultural change since the new regime took over and point out that the Bulls had a top-five defense this season. However, until those improvements result in more wins, there’s a chance that a change will be eventually made at the top.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The success that Lauri Markkanen had in Utah should make the Bulls more reluctant to consider trading Patrick Williams this summer, Mayberry adds. He notes that Williams showed steady improvement after injuries limited him to 17 games last season and states that Chicago could use more players with Williams’ size and versatility.
  • Patrick Beverley quickly became a leader when he joined the Bulls in February, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The team went 14-9 after signing Beverley following a buyout, as he provided toughness along with a defensive presence. Johnson notes that Beverley recently said on his podcast that he wants a new contract starting at $15MM a year, but the Bulls only have his Non-Bird rights and are limited to a $3.8MM offer unless they use their mid-level exception.
  • The Bulls also face a decision on DeMar DeRozan, who will become eligible this summer for an extension worth up to $179MM over four years, Johnson states in a mailbag column. DeRozan has been an All-Star in both of his seasons with Chicago, but Johnson doesn’t believe the Bulls will rush into a decision — either by extending or trying to trade him.

Central Notes: Budenholzer, Pistons, Duren, P. Williams

Mike Budenholzer‘s job status appears to be tenuous, but the Bucks are expected to take their time before determining what to do with their head coach, who still has two years left on his contract, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on NBA Today (YouTube link).

According to Wojnarowski, the Bucks are in “shock” over their first-round loss to the Heat and have been known to be patient under general manager Jon Horst. He also points out that there’s a new ownership group in place, which may complicate matters — Jimmy and Dee Haslam recently bought Marc Lasry‘s stake in the Bucks, which was thought to be about 25 percent.

I think this is a Milwaukee organization that is going to take their time,” Wojnarowski said. “Because here’s the thing… you’ve gotta know who you’re going to bring in. Who is out there at a championship level that you can bring in that’s better than what you know you have? That’s a very short list. … I don’t think there will be a quick resolution in terms of making a decision on Mike Budenholzer’s future.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • The Pistons finished with the worst record in the NBA in 2022/23 and will have roughly $30MM in cap space this summer. Which of their possible free agents will be retained, and which will be headed out of town? James L. Edwards III tackles that subject for The Athletic, writing that only Isaiah Livers‘ spot with the team is secure — Detroit holds a $1.8MM option for the young forward next season. Of the remaining players who either have team options or are set to hit unrestricted free agency, Edwards places the lowest odds (0-10 percent) on Cory Joseph coming back.
  • Many thought Jalen Duren would spend a good chunk of ’22/23 in the G League — he was the youngest player in the league and was considered a fairly raw prospect. Instead, the 19-year-old center had an excellent rookie season for the Pistons and appears firmly entrenched as a foundational piece, writes Keith Langlois of “That’s one guy I won’t ever put a ceiling on,” GM Troy Weaver said after the season. “As you keep watching him, you just see different things. … He’s a very smart young man. Got tremendous gifts. He’s got a chance to be a big-time player.” As Langlois notes, Duren led all rookies with 3.4 offensive rebounds and 8.9 total rebounds per game. He also averaged 9.1 points while shooting 64.8% from the floor in 67 games (24.9 minutes).
  • There were peaks and valleys during Patrick Williams‘ third season with the Bulls, but the former lottery pick hopes to have a long NBA career and is focused on improving for next season, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “I felt a lot more comfortable, a lot more aggressive but (still) not who I want to be,” Williams said. “That’s pretty much what it comes down to. You’ve got to put the work in to be who you want to be in this league. Obviously, at 21 you’re not going to be the person you’re going to be obviously when you’re 31. … I learned a lot about (myself) personally, about us as a team, about the game, learning how to read the game, how to really dissect the game. When I say I didn’t live up to what I wanted the season to be for me, it wasn’t like it was a terrible season. It’s just there’s more work to be done.”

Central Notes: Pistons, Williams, Holiday, Antetokounmpo

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is expected to talk to two former Thunder assistant coaches he worked with in Oklahoma City — the Bulls’ Josh Longstaff and the Nets’ Brian Keefe — for Detroit’s head coaching job, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Dwane Casey announced after the Pistons’ season finale that he would be moving to the front office.

Bucks assistant Charles Lee, former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse have already been mentioned as potential targets for the Pistons’ job.

Former Overtime Elite coach Kevin Ollie, Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney, Pistons assistant Rex Kalamian and former Villanova coach Jay Wright are some other potential candidates that may intrigue Weaver, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic speculates.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls big men Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic did something that has become an increasing rarity in the league. They appeared in all 82 regular season contests. Williams, who was injured most of last season, said he takes pride in being available, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “It’s a blessing to play all 82,” Williams said. “It was something that I definitely wanted to do and something I want to continue to do throughout the course of my career.”
  • Bucks guard Jrue Holiday achieved all of his regular season bonuses, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. He earned a total of $1.65MM for reaching incentives in minutes played, games played, rebounds and assists, as well as making the All-Star team. He still has a chance make an additional $4.1MM in bonuses, ranging from making the All-Defensive team to postseason team success, Marks adds.
  • While team goals means more to him, Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo believes he deserves the Most Valuable Player award, he told Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. “Look, I will never try to create a narrative about the work I put in and maybe that might hurt me because I believe the last five years I’ve been the MVP,” he said. “Do I want a third MVP? Hell (bleeping) yeah I want a third one. I am extremely competitive. I try to make my team successful. …. I’m never going to be one who discredits anybody else’s work. That’s not who I am as a person. And I will never beg for an MVP award that I believe I deserve.”

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.