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Bulls hoping forward Patrick Williams can play in preseason finale

It will be a big week for the second-year player, who’s close to returning from a badly sprained left ankle. He’ll get some work in on Monday with the player-development staff, then hopefully have two full days of practice.

CLEVELAND — The NBA season is long, and forward Patrick Williams is still young, so there’s no need to rush his recovery from an ankle injury.

At the same time, coach Billy Donovan knows that as each day goes by, Williams, considered a key part of the Bulls’ core, misses out on important reps.

“Obviously, the first thing is definitely his health,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘But there’s time — I don’t want to say wasted — but he’s going to have to get himself back. He’s missed several weeks, but I wouldn’t want to push him. . . . So we’re going to always be cautious with all these guys.’’

Monday will determine a lot. Williams is scheduled to get some work on the court with the player-development people, including cutting on the ankle and testing his lateral movement. If he can come out of that with no setbacks, then go through the scheduled practices Wednesday and Thursday, the Bulls are holding out hope for a return by the start of the regular season Oct. 20 in Detroit and that he might even get some minutes in the preseason finale Friday against the Grizzlies.

“That’s being very optimistic, and we have a lot of runway in front of us to make that decision, but I think the goal right now is kind of next step,’’ Donovan said. “He’s kind of gotten to this point.

“We’d love to see him be able to get a preseason game under his belt before the Detroit game, but at the same point, I don’t think the medical staff or any of us are in agreement that we’ve just got to thrust him out there.’’

Williams stayed in Chicago on Sunday, rehabbing and getting shots up.

Applause-worthy

Backup guard Alex Caruso played his first road game as a Bull, and there was one obvious difference for the former Laker when he entered the game: He took the floor with little fanfare.

That hasn’t been the case at the United Center and wasn’t the case for Caruso when he played with the Lakers before the coronavirus shutdown. Caruso couldn’t really explain it, but he always has been a fan favorite with the home crowd.

“Yeah, that’s just kind of my career at this point,’’ Caruso said. “Everybody just kind of likes watching me play. Whether they’re cheering for me out of sarcasm or actual fandom or whatever it is, it comes with it.’’

As good as the two-game preseason homestand was for most of the Bulls, Caruso arguably drew the loudest applause.

“I was a little surprised it was as loud when I first came in,’’ he said. “I would like it to be a little more warranted with some success and winning. But hopefully we’ll get to that point.’’

Back issues

Williams wasn’t the lone Bull to miss the only road trip of the preseason. Backup center Tony Bradley was still sidelined with a strained lower back.

Acquired in the offseason, he has yet to play. Donovan wasn’t overly concerned, but he was hoping Bradley would take steps in the right direction, insisting that the practices on Wednesday and Thursday “would be important.’’