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Bulls keep No. 4 pick, select forward Patrick Williams

There were clouds of speculation and rumors for days about what the Bulls’ new regime would do in its first crack at a draft.

The Bulls selected Florida State’s Patrick Williams in the first round of the NBA Draft.
The Bulls selected Florida State’s Patrick Williams in the first round of the NBA Draft.
AP

The rumors were numerous.

The speculation vast.

Sitting at No. 4, the Bulls, under executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, were considered the first real wild card of an already unusual 2020 NBA Draft.

Would the aggressive new-look regime trade up, trade down or ship the draft pick out all together for a proven All-Star?

All of it was being thrown out there on the rumor mill.

As a source emphasized heading into Wednesday, however, none of those rumors was being leaked out of the Advocate Center.

So, poker face and all, Karnisovas made his first draft selection with his new organization, staying put with the fourth overall pick and selecting defensive specialist Patrick Williams out of Florida State.

At 6-8, Williams is considered a “3-and-D’’ combo forward with a nasty defensive mindset and an offensive game that is raw but is coming along.

Otto Porter Jr. is opting in for $28.4 million this season, but the veteran forward will be out the door by next summer, and a vacancy will open up.

With Chandler Hutchison spending most of his two-year career in the training room, Williams will have that opportunity to become a fixture in the starting lineup if he stays on the trajectory the Bulls believe he’s on.

And the Bulls were not alone in their high evaluation of Williams.

Multiple sources said the Pistons were busy all day trying to move up from No. 7 to No. 3 to block the Bulls and grab Williams.

“I worked out for the Bulls for pre-draft . . . kept in contact with the staff, but you never really know for sure,’’ Williams said of the process.

So why all the hype for a guy who never started a game in his brief college career?

He’s the second-youngest player in the draft and one of those late bloomers that scouts feel will have a game that grows into a ready-made NBA body at 225 pounds.

But it also was hard for the Bulls to pass on his versatility in an evolving sport in which positioning seems to matter less and less.

“Any part can translate immediately,’’ Williams said when asked about making the transition from college to the NBA. “There’s some adjustment to be done, but most of the adjustment is the mental aspect, things to look for, things to look at, things to be mindful of, but as far as my game, I think everything will translate.’’

As for all the rumors surrounding the Bulls before the draft, the one that seemed to open the most eyes was Karnisovas sending Wendell Carter Jr. to the Warriors so the Bulls could move up to No. 2 and take LaMelo Ball or James Wiseman.

That obviously didn’t happen.

But the Bulls finally did get a forward who fits in with a potentially dynamic scoring backcourt of Coby White and Zach LaVine. Williams instantly bolsters a defense that was more smoke and mirrors than substance.

The hope is that he will show his defensive prowess immediately, and, like Jimmy Butler, his offensive game will grow.

Either way, Williams wasn’t going to question the process of how his hype surged in the last week and bumped him all the way up to No. 4.

“I honestly have no clue,’’ Williams said with a laugh.

“For me, the whole quarantine pre-draft, I’ve just been putting my head down and getting into the gym, focusing on getting better every day. Everything happened like it was supposed to.’’

With their second-round pick (44th overall), the Bulls drafted 6-11 big man Marko Simonovic, who likely will be a draft-and-stash for at least another season.