Williams has ‘real' chance to return Monday or Tuesday


Patrick Williams has progressed well since the Chicago Bulls cleared him for full-contact practice earlier this week.

How well? Ahead of Friday night's road matchup with the Phoenix Suns, head coach Billy Donovan said there is a "very real" chance Williams returns to game action on either Monday, when the Bulls host the Raptors, or Tuesday, when they complete a back-to-back in Milwaukee.

"He's full go, no setbacks," Donovan said of Williams. "Everything came back really really well in terms of him physically."

Williams has been practicing with the Windy City Bulls in Chicago this week while the team jetted from Sacramento to Utah to Phoenix for a three-game road trip. Reports out of those practices have been largely positive. While Williams will need time to get his rhythm back after five months on the sideline following left wrist surgery, his conditioning level is a bright spot.

"The few days that he's had back in Chicago I think have been really, really good. His conditioning is fine," Donovan said. "I think, just in talking to some people back there (in Chicago), as you can expect, the timing is off a little bit. It's gonna take a little bit of time for him to get back. But everything else, what he's been able to do in terms of keeping up his conditioning has been really good."

Donovan will watch Williams practice when the Bulls arrive back in Chicago on Saturday, then meet with him to discuss next steps. The Windy City Bulls play Sunday night in Hoffman Estates. The big league Bulls practice that same day. Depending on feedback from Williams and the Bulls' training staff, he will likely participate in one or the other.

"That's gonna be the discussion, and he'll certainly play a role in terms of what does he need," Donovan said. "Because we have practice on Sunday, so a lot of it's gonna be, 'OK does he feel like maybe he needs maybe some game time (in the G League), play in a game a little bit.' Or is it, 'Hey, he needs to be with us practicing.'

"A lot I think will depend on, when we get back (to Chicago), having two days (Saturday and Sunday) before we go into that back-to-back. What he elects to do, and then how does he feel in terms of making himself and having himself available — for either both of those games or one of those games."

Should Williams play in the Windy City game on Sunday, don't expect him back on Monday. But Donovan said he could play in the G League game Sunday, sit Monday, then return Tuesday. The possibility of practicing Sunday, then returning Monday, is also on the table.

There are a lot of balls in the air, which will be reconciled after Williams works out on Saturday.

But his speedy progress since being cleared to face full contact is encouraging. The Bulls have certainly missed his presence in the frontcourt, even if Donovan has said he will likely be reintegrated in a reserve role. And Williams, who has appeared in just five games this season and been sidelined since Oct. 28, is champing at the bit.

"He's anxious to get back. I think once a player gets cleared, those guys want to get back on the court. But there's also understanding that they need something before they can actually do that," Donovan said. "But I think he feels like, physically, he feels good. He knows, I think, the timing part is going to take a little bit of time. But I think just how he feels and where he's at mentally, he wants to come back and play."

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