So much for things being quiet for the Bulls ahead of training camp. Friday morning, the Bulls announced that second-year forward Patrick Williams will be out 4-6 weeks after suffering a “severe left ankle sprain during an optional workout.”
NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer later clarified that the 4-6-week timetable is from when the injury happened on Sept. 15, so based on that, it’s not quite as bad as it looks.
In addition, Coby White is expected back at some point in November from surgery on his labrum.
While the Bulls have a lot more talent in place, it’s still obviously not ideal that they could be down two rotation guys to start the season, even if they’re not part of the top four. Chicago opens the season on Oct. 20 against the Pistons, so if Williams returns on the front end of that timetable, he’ll be back in time. But if it’s on the back end, he’ll miss a few games.
Either way, Williams missing out on training camp and the preseason heading into this big second campaign for him is a huge bummer. He didn’t have a normal lead-up to his rookie season, and now he’s going to miss this important time before Year 2.
What does this mean for the Bulls’ rotation if Williams is out to start the season?
The initial assumption is that DeMar DeRozan starts at the 4 like he did for much of last season with the Spurs, with Alex Caruso going into the starting lineup. But Billy Donovan may prefer Caruso being that energy guy and ball handler off the bench, so perhaps he turns to Troy Brown Jr., Derrick Jones Jr. or even Alize Johnson as the fill-in starter.
With White out until November, the Bulls’ depth will be tested if Williams misses real games. The main guys will need to be staggered accordingly, because the bench lacks offensive pop (this is true regardless). Donovan will have some interesting decisions to make, and let’s just hope these guys come back ASAP with no setbacks and there aren’t other key injuries. This is especially true with the tough early-season schedule.