Bulls have to keep Patrick Williams engaged

There’s going to be a lot of downtime for Williams, as he’s headed for surgery that could end his regular season on Sunday. The second-year power forward suffered torn ligaments in his left wrist on Thursday and has a long rehab in front of him, coach Billy Donovan said.

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The ankle injury he suffered late in the summer was a new experience for forward Patrick Williams.

It cost him a few weeks of voluntary workouts and three preseason games.

“It was the first real injury I’ve ever had to deal with,’’ he said.

Well, that was a bump in the road compared to the injury he suffered Thursday.

Williams tore ligaments in his left wrist in the loss to the Knicks. He’s scheduled for surgery Sunday and could miss the rest of the regular season.

“It’s easy to look at it as something bad, but I’m just trying to not really think about that as much and look forward,’’ Williams told reporters Saturday. “But it definitely sucks. There’s nothing good about being injured, nothing good about sitting out on the sideline.’’

Williams, the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, was just starting the all-important second season of his development.

That’s the concern for coach Billy Donovan and the rest of the organization.

They have to make sure Williams, who added muscle and worked a lot on his conditioning in the offseason, is rehabbing and doing all the right things physically to get back as well as seeing that he stays engaged mentally.

“I think he’s still a little bit shocked,’’ Donovan said. “I think he’s trying to process it all. He’s never been hurt. He’s never had surgery before. This is totally new for him. My concern is he’s going to obviously keep his hand immobilized for a while, and it’s going to really inhibit the things he can do to stay in shape.’’

Donovan said that Williams has to keep his hand bandaged a certain way for a while, so even getting on a stationary bike will be difficult because he won’t be able to grip anything.

“We’re going to have to help him maximize his time because he’s going to have a lot of free time,’’ Donovan said. “His nutrition becomes heavily critical, how well he can take care of himself. 

‘‘He’s probably going to lose a significant amount of muscle mass in his upper body because he’s not going to be able to lift or do anything from that standpoint.

‘‘The more we can keep him engaged with our team [the better] because what happens is the season is going on, and these games are coming and coming and coming, and he can feel like he’s over here on an island.’’

Green effect

Donovan had some options for filling the void left by Williams in the starting lineup, and, just like in the preseason, he went with Javonte Green. His reasoning was simple.

“I just think the energy he plays with, his aggressiveness,’’ Donovan said.

“He’s versatile in terms of guarding multiple positions. He puts pressure out on the break. He’s extremely active on defense. His motor is really what we need from him.’’

Encore for Toni

Two days after celebrating Joakim Noah, the Bulls honored Toni Kukoc for his induction into the Hall of Fame with the Class of 2021.

“I’m really, really happy that [former general manager] Jerry [Krause] stuck with that idea to bring me to the Bulls,’’ Kukoc said last spring after learning of his selection.

“Obviously, he had a world-champion team there, but his idea of how I could fit in that team was something he talked me into, then giving it a shot was the turning point for me.’’

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