Rival Execs ‘Monitoring’ Bulls’ Former Top Pick for Trade Deadline Deal

Arturas Karnisovas, Chicago Bulls

Getty Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas of the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls have held fourth-year forward Patrick Williams in high enough regard to keep him out of trade talks to improve their roster in the past.

There appears to be a growing sense that that could change as the trade deadline approaches.

“Other rival executives are quietly monitoring the availability of former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams ahead of the deadline, given he failed to sign an extension with Chicago,” HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto wrote on February 5.

Williams, 22, was the No. 4 overall pick of the draft in 2020. He is averaging 10.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists this season, shooting 39.9% from beyond the arc.

A foot injury has Williams sidelined for the next week-plus.

“Injury Update: Patrick Williams has been diagnosed with acute bone edema in his left foot,” reads the team’s official statement in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on January 30. “He will immediately begin a period of active rest and be reassessed in approximately two weeks.”

That timeline puts him up against the All-Star break. The Bulls go into the break on a four-game road trip.

It could make sense to keep Williams out until the Bulls return from the break on February 22.

The Bulls also find themselves in a tricky position with Williams. He is in the final year of his rookie contract. He still has restricted free agency ahead of him, giving the Bulls some measure of control going forward.

That only kicks the can down the road, though. Spotrac’s Keith Smith projected in June 2023 that Williams would command a contract worth $100 million.

But he has not taken the leap the front office expected of him coming into the season.

Could the Bulls’ front office be so desperate to go back on their long-held belief in the player that Williams can become? His development since entering the league is often compared to Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes.

The Bulls selected Williams eight picks ahead of Haliburton, while Barnes hails from Williams’ alma mater, Florida State.

Aside from Williams, the Bulls have precious few players valued on the trade market.

Bulls Lose Biggest Trade Chip in Zach LaVine

The Bulls wanted to trade Zach LaVine before making any further decisions on the roster. He is out for the season, opting for surgery on his foot and all but nuking his already minimal trade value ahead of the trade deadline.

In light of that, the Bulls might have to move on to a different strategy with veteran DeMar DeRozan in the final year of his contract.

Alex Caruso will be in the final year of his contract next season.

The Bulls have not shown an interest in trading either, actively turning away calls for the latter. But they will both be well into their 30s toward the end of their next contracts – DeRozan is already there.

They could prove to be a lofty investment.

Bulls Long-Term Outlook Grim Amid Key Injuries

The Bulls are clinging to their spot in the Play-In Tournament as the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference. In addition to LaVine, they have been without Lonzo Ball for the last two-plus seasons.

Backup big man Andre Drummond is the “most likely” trade candidate on the Bulls’ roster, per Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer on February 5.

The trade deadline is on February 8.