CHICAGO — The Bulls’ 2020 first round draft pick didn’t get what he might have hoped for on Monday.
But if Patrick Williams is looking for an example of what to do in order to get what he’s ultimately hoping for, he needs only to look at a teammate.
On Monday, the Bulls chose not to exercise the rookie-scale contract extension for the forward as he prepares for the 2023-2024 season. Because of that, Williams will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season, putting pressure on him to perform over the next 82 games.
Yet to see an example of how to make that happen and get a new contract from the Bulls, he needs only to look at Coby White’s situation from a year ago.
The 2019 Bulls’ first round draft pick was also not given a rookie-scale contract extension by the front office of executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley. Remember, White was the last first round pick of the John Paxson-Gar Forman era that ended in the spring of 2020.
Playing mostly in a reserve role, starting just two of 74 games and playing a career-low 23.7 minutes per contest, White showed improvement throughout the season in that role. In February, March, and April, he averaged over 11 points per game, including 13.8 in the final five games of the season while shooting 53.7 percent from the floor.
In the play-in tournament final against the Heat on April 14, White scored 14 and hit four three-pointers in a 102-91 loss in Miami. That earned him a new three-year, $36 million contract from the Bulls this summer.
Williams will try to do the same or get a bigger deal as he cements his place in the Bulls’ future over the next six months. The first pick of the Karnisovas-Eversley era (fourth overall), the forward averaged 10.2 points and four rebounds per game in an average 28.3 minutes per contest as he played in all 82 games for the first time.
“I think there would be pressure if I wasn’t capable. I know what I’m capable of,” said Williams when asked about the pressure to deliver with a potential contract on the line this year. “This team knows what I’m capable of. I’ve shown it, I’ve shown myself, I’ve shown this team, I’ve shown everybody who needs to see it knows it.
“If people don’t know it at this point, I’m not going out of my way to show it to them. Like I said, I’m really trying to take that step from good the great, and then whoever I prove wrong or prove right within that, it is what it is.”
He’ll only have to prove his current bosses or those around the NBA right over the next six months, starting Wednesday night with the opener against the Thunder at the United Center.