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Patrick Williams: 'I would love to continue to be a Bull'

Will Gottlieb Avatar
February 24, 2024

The Chicago Bulls released an announcement late Friday afternoon that forward Patrick Williams, who had been dealing with a foot edema, would be undergoing season-ending surgery.

After Saturday’s practice, Williams spoke to the media to give an update on his injury.

“It’s a lot at one time to go from thinking you are ramping up to play on Tuesday to a couple of days later having to have surgery,” Williams said.

Following a three-week period in a walking boot, Williams returned early from All-Star Break to begin ramping up in preparation for the proverbial second half of the season. While the pain during that period was 2-out-of-10, which he said was a good thing, routine imaging revealed a fracture in his navicular bone.

“Wednesday morning was supposed to be a routine checkup just to see the progress the bone was making, if there were any changes or not,” Williams explained. “That night they called me and let me know they kind of saw a line in the navicular bone, which meant it was a fracture there and kind of went from there.”

“For me, it was kind of frustrating because I’m kind of ramping up and shooting at a date at the end of this month to come back, and when you hear that, it is kind of devastating,” he said.

This is obviously disappointing news for Williams, who faces a long recovery into July, starting when he has the surgery on March 6.

“It’s all kind of individual-based, but for the most part, the surgery has a four-month recovery time, four months to get back to activity,” Williams said. “So hopefully, that lands around early July, mid-July. Where I can get back on the court and still have somewhat of a summer to work out before training camp.”

We’ll see exactly how long it takes to recover following the procedure, but four months is a tough recovery period. Getting this procedure done now helps him get back on the court for the summer to where he can be ready to go for next season.

Whether that is with the Bulls, or another team, remains to be seen.

“I don’t think anybody knows what their future is to be honest,” Williams said of his upcoming restricted free agency. “I would love to continue to be a Bull. I love it here. I love the opportunity we have to build culture, to build something special with this group and this team. I think I could really be a cornerstone piece for this team. But you never know what the future holds and I understand it’s a business.”

The Bulls and Williams were unable to agree to terms on an extension prior to the start of this season. The two parties can now try again starting in July to find an agreement on a second contract. Williams can also seek a contract on the open market from a competing team, which the Bulls can decide whether or not to match and retain him. Or, he can play out the final year of his deal on the qualifying offer, $12.9 milion in this case, and become an unrestricted free agent after the 2024-25 season.

“Like I said, I love it here. I love the team. I love the guys. I love the front office. For now, worry about the surgery and getting back playing and let the chips fall where they may,” Williams reiterated.

The decision to keep Williams goes beyond his production. He’s still quite young, turning 23 prior to the start of next season. He plays a premium position at a high-level (3-and-D big wing), and still has some untapped creation upside, which he began showing earlier this season.

Williams was on a tear in December, averaging 14.1 points per game and playing his best basketball of the season. While the injury became a factor in January, Williams was proud of the development he showed while injuries to Zach LaVine and Torrey Craig were out for extended time, and even Nikola Vucevic and DeRozan missed a handful of games.


“I think it opened a lot of opportunity for guys to be more on the ball,” Williams said. “Me, Ayo and Coby, AC, I think it allowed us to kind of show what we can do. Kind of see how that felt to be more on the ball. I think I got a lot more pick-and-rolls in that span, a lot more closeouts in that span, a lot more DHOs and drags in that span just because we down bodies.”

Williams has gone out of his way on multiple past occasions not to throw his teammates under the bus or complain about lack of touches. He acknowledges the realities of playing alongside established, ball-dominant stars who help the team produce. But getting more reps with the ball in his hands went a long way for him and he wasn’t afraid to say that either.

“For me, it was super fun to develop that way, kind of know what it feels like to be out there and come back to practice and replicate that feeling and get lost in the progression of things,” he explained. “This injury, I don’t think it throws a wrench in it at all. I think it’s the same mindset. I know what it felt like. I know what it looked like. I can go back now and have those moments I can go back to and recall and watch the film. What I did well, what I didn’t do well. For me, it’s a shift in mindset, not a wrench in it.”

He said he enjoyed growing into that space and that having had that experience, he will always be able to draw back on it.

“Definitely feel like (December) was stepping into who I am as a player,” Williams said. “I was able to get every facet that I think I can into the game. I think there was another step or two I could’ve taken. That’s why I was so excited to get back this season.”

Unfortunately for Williams, that won’t happen this season. The bigger question is whether it will happen with the Bulls, or as a member of a rival ball club.

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