There is some anticipation of angst from the Chicago Bulls which could result in them looking to turn one of their few remaining trade assets with value into a more usable commodity.
That asset would be Patrick Williams.
“After unloading so many assets in the [Dejounte] Murray deal (three firsts and a swap), Atlanta could be operating with a limited trade budget,” wrote Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report on April 27. “Still, if the Chicago Bulls are anxious to build a winner around Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, maybe Atlanta can exploit that urgency and flip some of its win-now talent for Patrick Williams.”
Williams’ third season did not pan out the way it was built up to despite the 21-year-old making strides in several areas including logging 82 appearances during the regular season, a notable feat after he missed 65 games last season with torn wrist ligaments.
He averaged 10.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists while shooting 46.4% from the floor overall and 41.5% from beyond the arc this season.
But even he has admitted that he did not live up to the expectations he had for himself.
“It’s gotten better but we need it to be more consistent,” Donovan said, per Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune. “When he does go, he’s an elite rebounder and he’s got great strength. He’s a guy in very, very tight spaces that gets off the floor and can really rebound.”
But the bigger concern may be that he has still been less assertive than they would like and need to reach their collective ceiling.
Even his three-point efficiency is stunted on just 3.4 attempts per game.
While he has never officially been deemed off-limits, Williams is executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas’ first first-round draft pick with the Bulls. Karnisovas has been reluctant to include him in deals before and it is unsure just what level of player it would take to change his mind.
Williams is extension-eligible this offseason and is set to earn $9.8 million next year.
What the Bulls and Hawks Could Offer Each Other
Each of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela, and John Collins is signed through at least the 2024-25 season. But they also make an average salary of $21.7 million in 2023-24 meaning the Bulls would have to add additional salary to any of the deals for one of those three.
The lone one-for-one option that could make some sense is big man Onyeka Okongwu. He was taken two picks after Williams in 2020 and has steadily progressed every season. But that progression could also have him in line to replace Capela at some point which would naturally raise his value in the eyes of Atlanta’s front office, similar to how Chicago views Williams.
Bulls Urged to Take Another Path With Patrick Williams
If the Bulls are intent on keeping Williams this offseason – a potentially wise choice given their recent history – then they may need to consider a different (but equally as drastic) course of action to maximize him.
“The small forward spot has to be opened next season for Williams, who has become maybe the team’s best spot-up shooter and shown possibilities for making plays off the dribble from the wing,” argued Sam Smith of NBA.com. “He’s been toggled between positions, so you can see he’s been confused what to be. I think now he knows who he is and what he should be, and with a summer to concentrate on that he could be much improved next season. It’s up to the Bulls to clear the position for him.”
That would require trading DeRozan which, as things stand, seems unlikely but could be necessary to get better overall and, more importantly, in the long run.
They are light on tradeable assets that have value.
“DeRozan might be the finishing piece for a handful of teams this offseason,” writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “If the Bulls can add a point guard or some outside shooting and get draft picks back in return, they might have to put that chip on the table.”