This preseason saw more of the same from Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams.
There were flashes of his tremendous ceiling. But not as often as there were long stretches in which he deferred to a fault with star teammates DeMar DeRozan, Zach Levine, and Nikola Vucevic on the floor. That makes the latest intel from Zach Lowe of ESPN about his looming contract situation something to watch.
“I’m hearing Patrick Williams wants big big numbers,” Lowe said on “The Lowe Post with Zach Lowe” on October 20 “Like starts with a two and isn’t ‘[$20 million] kind of stuff potentially.”
Lowe’s guest, ESPN front office analyst and former Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks noted that a $20 million extension would be roughly half of the maximum a player in Williams’ situation could seek.
Williams averaged 10.2 points on 57.6% true shooting in over 28 minutes per game last season.
He will be a restricted free agent next offseason if the two sides cannot come to an agreement on terms for an extension. The Bulls will also have the right of first refusal on any contract offer sheets the signs.
Bulls Need More Production
“I understand that teams in these contracts are paying for future production, not past production,” Lowe said. “If I’m going to give you like $100 million, I’d like to have some past production. Have you done something in the NBA that’s worth any – Patrick Williams has done some stuff. But that’s … a lot of cheese.”
Lowe notes that Williams started all 82 games last season for the first time in his career. He also shot 41.7% from beyond the arc.
Lowe pointed to the five-year contract extension worth up to $146 million that San Antonio Spurs wing Devin Vassell signed on October 3. Vassell averaged 18.5 points on 55% true shooting with 3.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
He also shot 38.7% from deep.
Williams has the edge in durability. Vassell made 38 appearances last season, though Williams has only one more appearance in for their careers. He has also started more than double the amount of games Vassell has. The two were selected seven picks apart in the 2020 draft, with Williams going No. 4 overall to the Bulls and Vassell No. 11 to the Spurs.
“I’ll never be out on Patrick Williams,” Lowe concluded. “I just don’t know if I want to be that in right now.”
Patrick Williams Named Starter for Regular Season Opener
Williams has retained his starting spot for now. Head coach Billy Donovan named him and Coby White as the two players who will begin the opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder alongside the big three of DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic. However, Donovan also left himself some wiggle room to make a change if necessary.
“Billy Donovan said ‘right now’ it’s a fair assessment that Coby White and Patrick Williams will start regular-season opener,” NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson posted on X on October 19. “This has been obvious throughout camp.”
Donovan pulled Williams after less than three minutes during the Bulls preseason game versus the Toronto Raptors on October 17.
He was back in the starting lineup and playing with better effort the next game.
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley have said this is a big year for Williams. Donovan has followed his words expressing similar sentiments with action. Williams said he appreciated the challenge from Donovan. But, with so much on the line this season, the Bulls need to see that effort more often.
Josh Buckhalter covers the NBA for Heavy.com with a focus on the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. He’s based in Villa Park, Illinois. Follow Josh on Twitter and Instagram: @JoshGBuck More about Josh Buckhalter