Chicago Bulls, Patrick Williams set to continue partnership – NBC Sports Chicago


Submitted by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Following the first round of the NBA Draft on Wednesday, Chicago Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said he would wait until the end of free agency to announce the franchise's identity.

But make no mistake: it's trending among young people.

On the heels of Karnisovas selecting 19-year-old Matus Buzelis on a night that came just days after trading veteran Alex Caruso for 21-year-old Josh Giddey, a source confirmed the Bulls are confident of re-signing fifth-year forward Patrick Williams when free agency opens on Sunday evening.

The Athletic reported that Williams wants to sign a five-year, $90 million deal. The verbal agreement will be reached on Sunday, but Williams cannot officially sign until the league moratorium ends on July 6.

That salary makes sense because it's the difference between what the Bulls offered and what Williams and his reps were asking for last season before rookie extension talks began.

Before last season, Williams turned down a four-year, roughly $64 million offer, according to sources at the time, though it is unknown if that was the final offer or part of ongoing negotiations. Sources at the time indicated that Williams' team wanted a deal around De'Andre Hunter's four-year, $90 million deal, but he may have accepted $20 million annually.

That's why all signs have been pointing to Williams' return for months, after negotiations went largely unhindered. And with the salary cap set to increase with the new TV rights deal, Williams' annual salary won't exceed the mid-level exception by the end of this deal. That would be 12.76 percent of next season's projected $141 million salary cap.

After all, Williams is set to sign for $18 million annually, following a season in which surgery cut his campaign short for the second time in four years. Williams, who will turn 23 in August and represents Karnisovas' first personnel move as the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, averaged 10 points on 39.9 percent 3-point shooting in 43 games.

On draft night, Karnisovas said the same about the health of Williams, who underwent surgery in February for a stress reaction in his left foot. Originally, Williams sat out after Jan. 25 because of bone spurs in that foot, but imaging as he prepared to return showed the injury had worsened.

“We'll have to look at that [Williams] “I was playing according to my schedule,” Karnisovas said on draft night, but he was planning on being ready for training camp.

Whether or not Williams is fully ready to go to training camp remains to be seen, but he's set to fit firmly into the Bulls' youth movement. In addition to the acquisitions of Giddey and Bouzelis, Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Delon Terry and Julian Phillips are back for a team that can't spare veteran players even after the Caruso trade.

The Bulls have permanently traded Zach Lavine and sources have indicated that talks with the Sacramento Kings could be reopening. Meanwhile, Karnisovas' stance on re-signing DeMar DeRozan changed dramatically on draft night.

“Everything is on the table,” Karnisovas said on draft night. “And you know, it’s still an option.”

This is a departure from Karnisovas' previous stance, in which he firmly stated he wanted DeRozan to come back. Now, DeRozan is set to enter unrestricted free agency on Sunday evening. And with news on Saturday that Paul George has opted out, with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reporting he will join his current team in the Los Angeles Clippers, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic, there could be a domino effect for DeRozan.

League sources have indicated the Clippers should be monitored as a potential landing spot for DeRozan if George signs elsewhere.

As for Williams' impending signing, he's a career 41 percent 3-point shooter with defensive versatility. Injuries are out of his control, but even with his inconsistencies and sometimes maddening stretches of passive play, he has shown the ability to be a premier “3-and-D” player.

And in a league with an emphasis on wings and the need to defend multiple positions, Williams fits the bill. And that's why the Bulls are willing to go the same route they decided to take with Coby White last offseason, proactively signing one of their own players to keep him out of the restricted free agency game.

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