Hope and desperation in Bulls' signing of Patrick Williams

Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards
Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

The Chicago Bulls took care of one piece of their offseason business yesterday when it was revealed that they intend to bring back restricted free agent Patrick Williams. 

Williams will ink a new five-year deal worth $90 million according to Shams Charania, who first broke the news. 

At just 22 years old, Williams’ best days should be ahead of him and the Bulls are betting on it to the tune of $18 million per year, more than they reportedly offered Williams earlier in the season. 

Was this a good deal for the Bulls? Does it add further proof and hope that the necessary rebuild is coming? Or was this the desperate move of a franchise trying to squeeze something positive out of an otherwise frustrating offseason? 

Patrick Williams offers hope to the Chicago Bulls 

Let’s not get it twisted, the Bulls aren’t paying Patrick Williams this much for what he has done, but what he will do. 

Second contracts are always a risk in the NBA, as most players haven’t hit their stride yet, so it’s a big risk that they are going to become what you thought they would when you drafted them. That second contract is faith in your vision. 

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Williams has flashed reasons to be hopeful that vision will come to fruition, as he has shot over 40 percent from 3-point range and is a versatile defender with great size. A 3-and-D wing is precisely what the Bulls need with their core of Coby White, Matas Buzelis and Ayo Dosunmu and this is the foursome on which the Bulls are currently staking their future. 

If Williams fulfills his potential, this deal will be a steal for the Bulls, who were able to keep it under $100 million, essentially getting Williams for what amounts to good role player money. 

If he becomes more than that, this deal will look like a bargain in the future when the cap goes up and starters are all making closer to $30-50 million per season. 

Williams provides enough hope to make this a quality bet for the Bulls. But there is another side to this. 

The Chicago Bulls just took a huge gamble on Patrick Williams 

After trading away Alex Caruso and with the prospect of losing DeMar DeRozan for nothing, the Bulls were desperate to do something positive this offseason. 

But $90 million is a lot of money for a player who hasn’t done much in the league, who has only played 213 games in four seasons and who really hasn’t progressed much. 

Injuries happen, so it’s the last part of that equation that is troubling when it comes to Williams, whose counting stats haven’t budged at all since his rookie season. 

He has averaged right around 10 points per game and four rebounds each season of his career with no clear progression. That progress took a huge hit last season after it ended in surgery after just 43 games. 

Consider that Williams is now making double what Alex Caruso will make next season and just got an extension that will be bigger than the one Caruso will eventually get. Yes, he’s very young, but he provides half the production at double the cost. 

The Bulls also don’t want to watch Williams go off and become a star for another team, but what other team was offering him this much? If Williams doesn’t improve or can’t stay healthy, this is a big salary for 10 points per game and half a season. 

This could turn into the very definition of throwing good money after bad. 

In the end, it was a worthwhile risk for the Chicago Bulls who secured a young player who will hopefully outplay this contract, but given what he has done so far, this is no sure thing.