Bulls coach Billy Donovan confirms forward Patrick Williams’ possible early return

It wasn’t just hope for the Bulls coach, as Donovan confirmed a Sun-Times report that Williams was progressing ahead of schedule from wrist surgery and could see some regular-season action on his current timetable. Donovan also said that the timetables haven’t changed for Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso or Derrick Jones Jr.

SHARE Bulls coach Billy Donovan confirms forward Patrick Williams’ possible early return

Coach Billy Donovan was feeling pretty confident Sunday that the Bulls would add a starting power forward in time for what he hopes will be a deep playoff run.

But it might not be before the trade deadline Thursday, and it likely won’t be coming from outside the organization.

The Sun-Times reported last week that injured Patrick Williams (surgery on left wrist) was progressing quicker than expected and might even get back in time to get some regular-season games under his belt.

Donovan confirmed that.

‘‘I think there’s a possibility, absolutely,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I feel pretty good about the way he’s progressing, from what I’ve heard. What that exact date would be? I think there’s a very strong possibility, if he continues to progress, that he’ll be back before the season ends.

‘‘There may be an opportunity . . . maybe 10 or 12 or 14 games left in the year, maybe we could have our whole team back.’’

That would mean not only Williams but also small forward Derrick Jones Jr. (broken finger) and guards Lonzo Ball (knee surgery) and Alex Caruso (wrist surgery).

That’s one of the underlying factors that make the trade deadline tricky for the Bulls. They know they have holes that might lead to an early playoff exit, but they also know they have four players in the training room who could go a long way toward covering up the weaknesses.

The 6-7, 215-pound Williams is the biggest of those, considering the Bulls’ lack of size in the frontcourt.

Donovan again pointed out that small forward DeMar DeRozan, center Nikola Vucevic, guards Zach LaVine and Ball have played only 17 games together, so deciding whether that sample size is enough and projecting Williams into the lineup will be tough.

‘‘Just in my conversations with [executive vice president of basketball operations] Arturas [Karnisovas] and [general manager] Marc [Eversley], everybody really likes the group and likes the chemistry in the group,’’ Donovan said about the possibility of making a trade.

‘‘When there’s stuff that’s going on that [Karnisovas] really needs to talk to me about — where there’s stuff that’s real — we end up having those conversations. That has not happened at all. I know that he and his staff have been in a lot and are working, doing what they need to do, but it’s just allowed me to focus on our team.’’

The Bulls are off Tuesday, so that might be the day the front office will pull the coaching staff in for a discussion about trades.

Back attack

The back soreness and spasms remained enough of an issue for LaVine that he was ruled out of his second consecutive game Sunday against the 76ers.

The Bulls host the Suns on Monday, but Donovan wasn’t going to speculate about whether LaVine would be available.

‘‘I think he’s worked pretty hard on just getting treated,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I don’t know about [Monday]. I think a lot of it is going to depend. He got treatment [Saturday] and again [Sunday morning], but I just don’t really have an update on how close he is.’’

Guard Coby White (groin) also missed his second consecutive game. He went through the pregame warmup, but the Bulls determined he needed more time.

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