With the NBA trade deadline just days away, all eyes are on the Bulls and how they’ll address certain holes on their roster. One hole, in particular, being size at the rim, a void created by Patrick Williams’ broken wrist suffered in the infancy of the season.
But if you’re a Bulls fan looking for some good news involving Williams and the hole he left behind, Billy Donovan provided us all with some optimism before this afternoon’s matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers:
Billy Donovan expressed optimism that Patrick Williams will be back for some regular-season action. Couched it that he doesn’t know when and it’s not for sure. But called it “very good possibility” as long as no setbacks.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 6, 2022
Billy Donovan calls a Patrick Williams’ return before the playoffs a “very good possibility.” Donovan told reporters that, barring any setbacks, it’s a very strong possibility that Williams could return before the end of the regular season ends, specifically noting that Williams has ramped up his conditioning as of late.
Patrick Williams (wrist) has ramped up his conditioning lately, Billy Donovan says.
"I think there's a very strong possibility" he returns by the end of the regular season, Donovan says.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) February 6, 2022
Of course, while it’s nice to hear it straight from Donovan, the idea of Williams returning this season is one that has been gaining momentum for some time now.
On January 10, Williams’ cast came off his surgically repaired wrist. And four days before that, Artūras Karnišovas implied that while there’s no timeline on Pat’s recovery (at the time), a return before the playoffs was possible. Likewise, on January 26, the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley reported that “there was growing momentum that Williams could be back sooner [than next season], and even get some regular-season games under his belt before the postseason begins.
So, while this is not entirely out of left field – and by no means guaranteed 0 it is nice to hear it straight from Billy Donovan. Especially before a matchup with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that will surely give the Bulls fits on the glass this afternoon and in the postseason if they don’t get Williams (or external help) back before then.
It’s also worth noting that while it seems that Williams won’t be included in a trade before this week’s deadline, positive news of his health does work in the Bulls favor (in terms of leverage). Suppose the Bulls can convince other teams that they’re not operating from a position of desperation, because they’ll have Williams back before the end of the regular season. In that case, they may be able to soften the price on some immediate help in the frontcourt until Williams returns, or maybe even land some backcourt depth.
To that end, the Bulls have reportedly made an offer to the Boston Celtics for guard Dennis Schröder. If the price is right, Schröder could take some pressure off Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, and Coby White while the Bulls wait for Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso to get healthy.
So, while Williams might not be heading out of town in a deal, news of his potential return could very well help the Bulls in trade talks these next few days.