Bulls forward Patrick Williams cleared for full-contact practices
The Bulls’ plan is to get him a few practices — and possibly even a game — with the G League’s Windy City Bulls as they ramp up his activity. Williams hasn’t played since suffering an injury to his left wrist Oct. 28.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Windy City Bulls’ practices just took on a lot more meaning.
According to coach Billy Donovan, forward Patrick Williams was cleared for full-contact practices Wednesday and will spend the next few days working out with the Bulls’ G League affiliate. He might play in a game with them, too.
Donovan still offered no timetable for Williams’ exact return from surgery on his left wrist, but it’s now days instead of weeks.
‘‘We’ll try and get him some legitimate contact over the next few days, possibly doing some work with the Windy City team,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘All of that hasn’t necessarily been ironed out as far as if he’ll play games or just practices, but he’s been cleared by doctors to go through contact.
‘‘He needs certainly a ramp-up time, and however long that is, that’s the next step. I think I’ll probably find out how much time [the Bulls’ medical team] feels he needs to get to a place where he’s comfortable to get out there and play.’’
Donovan already made it clear Monday that Williams won’t be returning to his starting job when he comes back — at least not initially. He will be on a minutes restriction, and Donovan and the rest of the coaching staff don’t want to break up the starting unit just yet.
Depending on how Williams responds in his initial playing time, as well as matchups, that might change late in the regular season and into the playoffs. But after playing in only five games before suffering the injury Oct. 28, Williams has some catching up to do.
His first order of business, however, will be to get through the workouts with Windy City and see where he is when the Bulls get back into town Saturday.
‘‘It’s moving in that direction; I feel good about that,’’ Donovan said when he was asked whether Williams would be back at some point in March. ‘‘But a lot of it is going to depend on how it goes once he [practices fully] and what [the] medical [team] feels will be an ample amount of time for him to actually get comfortable to go into a game.’’
The Bulls visit the Suns on Friday, then are off until hosting the Raptors on Monday. Donovan said the game against the Raptors is a long shot, but he didn’t take it off the table.
The news isn’t as positive for guard Lonzo Ball, who is making progress but still is dealing with discomfort in his surgically repaired left knee.
‘‘Did a little bit more, and I think this is going to be normal for him,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘When they keep pushing him, there’s a little discomfort, so they have to back him off a bit. Still not at the place where he’s at a full sprint right now. I don’t know if it’s a step back. It’s small increments where he’s up here and then back here, and all of a sudden he’ll take the next step.’’
That next step would be doing full running and cutting without any pain from the bone bruise. As Donovan pointed out Monday, bone bruises in the knee can be tricky because they heal differently for different individuals.
Ball last played Jan. 14 and initially was shut down after that because of the bone bruise in the knee. Further testing found the meniscus needed to be repaired, and the Bulls gave a six- to eight-week timetable for his return. So far, it has been about seven weeks since Ball’s surgery.