Forward Patrick Williams remains a work in progress for the Bulls
Even with Williams playing 37 minutes against the Clippers and showing some progress in his recovery from wrist surgery, coach Billy Donovan said he’s not ready to unleash Williams for the remaining four regular-season games.
The revelation didn’t surprise many.
After the Bulls’ overtime victory Thursday against the Clippers, forward Patrick Williams admitted he still was dealing with a sore ankle at the start of the regular season and didn’t tell anyone.
Williams didn’t look right in the five games he played in early, but it wasn’t the ankle that sidelined him for months. In a game against the Knicks in late October, Williams suffered a bad injury to his left wrist and required surgery that kept him out until a few weeks ago.
‘‘Playing one year in college and being 19 years old, there’s so much he doesn’t know,’’ coach Billy Donovan said after being informed Saturday about what Williams admitted a couple of days before.
‘‘[I’ll] give you an example from last year. The first week, he said: ‘Why do I have to go in the training room and get on the table?’ I said: ‘Well, they’re basically taking care of your body. You need to do that every day.’ ‘But I feel OK.’ ‘Well, there’s a maintenance process that you have to go through.’ There’s absolutely zero foundation in terms of being a professional in every athlete. I’m not trying to embarrass him, it’s just where it was at.
‘‘He didn’t understand the importance of eating breakfast. I mean, I saw him last year before one game, [and] he had, like, two huge pieces of chicken parmigiana pasta. We’re playing in, like, an hour and 15 minutes. I was like, ‘Patrick, you cannot eat that.’ ’’
Williams’ wrist and ankle are obviously close to 100% now, with Donovan saying his minutes restriction had been lifted in the wake of him playing 37 minutes against the Clippers. But that doesn’t mean Donovan was ready to start playing Williams heavy minutes down the stretch.
‘‘When [people] are sitting here, ‘Well, play him 30 minutes,’ sometimes he’s not ready for that,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I get a chance to be around him every single day and talk to him, and there’s things he’s trying to figure out along the way, too.
‘‘You want to put him in a position where he can be successful. I have to keep on trusting him. . . . Like, I had to get on him at halftime [Thursday] about, ‘You have to do more.’ It’s got to get to a point where for him it’s more instinctive, where he’s doing it a little more on his own.’’
On the Ball
There was very little to update about guard Lonzo Ball (left knee), but the Bulls hope that will change by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Donovan said Ball still hasn’t resumed any sprinting or cutting after taking a 10-day pause in his rehab process, but the team’s medical staff said a more definitive timetable would be coming by midweek.
Ball, who is averaging 13 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists, last played Jan. 14 before being sidelined by a bone bruise in his left knee. He had surgery to repair the meniscus in the knee, but it’s the bone bruise that still is giving him discomfort.
If Ball is only running by Wednesday, a return for the playoffs would seem to be unlikely, considering the Bulls end the regular season next Sunday.