Bulls Make Important Call on Former Lottery Pick’s Contract: Report

Patrick Williams Bulls-Pels

Getty Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams reacts during a preseason bout with the New Orleans Pelicans.

After a longer-than-expected summer, the Chicago Bulls were finally back in effect on Tuesday, hosting the New Orleans Pelicans in their preseason opener. The team fell just short in its effort to secure the win — and there was sloppiness on both sides of the ball — but, at the individual level, players more or less did what they were expected to in the contest.

The lone exception may be third-year forward and former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams. In 17 minutes of play, the 21-year-old scored just five points on 2-of-7 shooting while logging more turnovers (two) than assists (one). Moreover, he lacked the killer instinct offensively that the organization and its fans want to see out of him.

Of course, one lousy exhibition bout shouldn’t sour anyone on Williams, who showed flashes of brilliance after returning from a wrist injury late last season.

It clearly hasn’t soured the Bulls, who appear to be going deeper on their investment in the ultra-talented baller — as if there were any question that they would.

Bulls Pick Up Williams’ Option, Per Report

According to Spotrac’s Keith Smith, the Bulls have picked up the fourth-year option on Williams’ rookie-scale contract with the team.

This is hardly a shocking development — teams don’t allow top-four picks to simply walk away for nothing before the completion of their rookie deals unless something has gone horribly (historically might be a better word) awry. We’re talking Anthony Bennett/Hasheem Thabeet levels of bustage (and even they were traded).

But Williams has done little to discourage those that believe he can become a star.

In 88 games (and 80 starts) across his first two seasons in the Association, he has averaged 9.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.8 steals in 27.3 minutes per contest. He has also connected on 49% of his shots overall and 41.3% of his attempts from three-point range.

Williams will pull down just under $7.8 million this season before bagging more than $9.8 million in the option year of 2023-24. If the Bulls end up not being able to work out an extension with him, they’ll still have the ability to make him a restricted free agent after next season and maintain a level of team control in his dealings.

Donovan Sounds Off on Williams’ Ho-Hum Game

In the wake of Chicago’s loss to NOLA, head coach Billy Donovan conceded that Williams could have been stronger and/or more assertive in his offensive actions. As he sees it, though, the big man just needs to get out of his own head; to play first and ask questions later.

“Sometimes Patrick can overthink, over-analyze,” Donovan opined, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “And when he does get to that place where he’s maybe thinking too much or he’s not being instinctive, and then he gets to that point where he looks passive. And I think that’s something that he’ll have to continue to grow and get better at. That’s where the challenge is.”

Williams doesn’t disagree.

“Mentally, it’s a huge part of it, what you tell yourself,’’ Williams said. “The self-talk you have with yourself throughout the game. I’ve been trying to focus on that.”

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