With the NBA free agency period set to begin at the end of June, the pressure is officially on for the Bulls to make the most of a bad situation and find a way to put an improved roster out there on the court next year. Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Everseley have a difficult task on their hands when it comes to finding a balance between adding new talent and bringing back the established core, but it’s one we have to hope they’re well-equipped to take on.
They can’t be solely concerned with the problems of the 2023 offseason, however, as any decisions made will have a trickle-down effect for multiple summers to come. Among the most pressing issues, the fact Patrick Williams is set to enter his fourth season in the NBA and be eligible for free agency in 2024 is something the team would likely prefer to address before it escalates into a larger issue.
If the Bulls are successful in locking down Williams to a multi-year deal, there’s still a chance to keep this current core together and make a run. If they don’t manage that feat, things will get dicey and certain seats in the front office will begin to feel the heat.
Spotrac’s salary cap expert Keith Smith breaks the impending conundrum regarding Williams down for us Bulls fans here below:
"“Williams has become one of the most underrated players from this class. He’s a good shooter, has shown improvement every season and he’s been durable in two of his three seasons. The Bulls roster and cap sheet are in a bit of a weird place, but they can’t let Williams leave because of that. The new CBA allowing for non-max rookie scale extensions to cover five years could come into play here.”"
Ultimately, Smith lands on a five-year, $100 million price tag for the former 4th overall pick Williams. This would be a hefty lump sum to pay for the forward that has yet to prove he can be a real star in this league, but it’s also the going rate these days for players with his 3-and-D ability.
If the Bulls wish to keep Patrick Williams around long-term, they’ll have to pay up.
Interestingly enough, Smith has Williams as one of only ten rookies who should receive an extension. Of the bunch, he only has Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Desmond Bane, Tyrese Maxeym and Devin Vassell projected to make a larger lump sum. Jaden McDaniels and Immanuel Quickley are also up there in the range of $20 million or more annually.
Although several fans were frustrated that Williams didn’t rapidly rise to stardom like Edwards and Ball before him, it really puts things into context when you see how shallow the talent pool was from this class. After Williams, Smith has draft picks No. 5 through No. 10 failing to secure an extension ahead of free agency.
In response to this news, one Bulls fan and Reddit user said, “[Coby White and Patrick Williams are] not cornerstones but if we hit in the draft, assuming we tank they can be huge pieces down the road. Think both of them get locked down for sure.”
I’m liable to agree with this train of thought here. Just like when the Bulls inked Lonzo Ball to a $20 million per annum deal, the expectation was never for him to come and be a star that leads Chicago back to prominence. Much like the fans wanted from Ball, if Pat can elevate his game and become a quality starter that elevates the play of his teammates around him, I’d be happy with this deal. Anything less, and I may even be tempted to call it a steal.
Whether or not that ends up being the truth, well, that’s up to Williams to go out there and prove me right.