Patrick Williams

Bulls, Patrick Williams fail to reach terms on rookie contract extension

4th-year forward will enter 2024 restricted free agency, vows to focus on basketball

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The Chicago Bulls and Patrick Williams didn’t reach agreement on an extension of his rookie contract by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

This means Williams will travel the path that his teammate and close friend Coby White did last season and become a restricted free agent next offseason. Much like White, who ultimately signed a three-year deal worth between $36-40 million depending on incentives, Williams vowed to handle the lack of an extension professionally.

“Easy,” Williams said following practice at the Advocate Center. “Anything personal in my life that I’ve been going through, any time I step between those four lines, it’s gone.”

That said, Williams made it clear he believes he is worth a lucrative extension at some point.

“I’ve never been good at the business of basketball. It really hasn’t been much of an importance of mine up until this point. But obviously this is how I feed my family. Obviously, I want a big contract. I think that’s what I work for and I think it’s what I’m worth. But whenever it comes, it comes,” Williams said. “I’m not 100 percent going to say this summer or next summer or whenever it may be. I go out and hoop and try to win games. My main focus now is helping this team get over the next hump and myself over that hump.”

Multiple players from Williams’ 2020 draft class reached terms on an extension on Monday or in previous days. This included Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels, whose career statistics are similar to Williams but is considered to have a higher defensive ceiling. McDaniels agreed to a five-year, $136 million deal.

The Bulls historically have taken a hard-line stance on rookie extension deals, knowing they still have the ability to match any offers in restricted free agency. That’s not to say they haven’t hit on rookie extensions; Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson come to mind. But like White or Jimmy Butler in the past, the Bulls held firm on their ceiling in the Williams’ negotiations and didn’t finalize a deal.

Coach Billy Donovan said he isn’t worried about Williams’ mental makeup after experiencing the business of basketball.

“I would say in my daily interaction with Patrick as a person and his character, I’d imagine he’d come in here really, really professional each day, work really hard and try to do everything he can to help our team,” Donovan said. “I’m pretty confident about that.

“I think he’ll put the team first. He’s always done that. And I would anticipate that he’ll continue to do that.”

In fact, Williams, who represents the first player transaction of the current managerial regime's tenure as the fourth overall pick in 2020, said that’s his exact focus.

“The hardest thing to do in any profession is to go from good to great. That’s the goal of mine and the goal of this team,” he said. “I think it would be pressure if I wasn’t capable. I know what I’m capable of. This team knows what I’m capable of. I’ve shown it. Everybody who needs to see it knows it. . . . It’s about this team taking the next step and me being a big part of that.”

Despite being the fourth or fifth offensive option, Williams averaged in double figures for the first time in his career last season. He also shot 41.5 percent from 3-point range, matching his career percentage in three seasons.

Williams spent his offseason not only attending “Camp DeMar” again, the notorious workouts of DeMar DeRozan, but also watching film of the league’s elite wings as he attempts to take a jump in playmaking and pick-and-roll situations.

Williams said he believes his ability to make skip passes off the dribble with either hand and also read and attack defensive closeouts more efficiently have him excited about his potential this season.

“The game has slowed down for me a lot,” he said.

Even if the business of basketball will speed up next summer in restricted free agency.

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