The Chicago Bulls got a stroke of good news on Monday.
Second-year forward Patrick Williams, who has been rehabilitating a sprained ankle since mid-September, returned to practice one day after the team moved to 3-0 in preseason play with a road win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Head coach Billy Donovan said that Williams participated in 5-on-5 drills, whereas before he had been limited to individual work. The team will monitor how Williams' body responds throughout the week before making a final decision on his status for Friday's preseason finale against the Memphis Grizzlies.
"The biggest thing will be — tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 12) we're off — is to find out tomorrow how he feels when he comes in, and then even do more tomorrow, and then if he's OK and feeling good and there's no setbacks, just keep ramping up the level of contact you would have him at competitively," Donovan said.
While it's still too soon to say anything definitive about Williams' availability on Friday, Donovan said a return to action is on the table.
"He is progressing in that way," Donovan said of Williams potentially playing Friday. "I wouldn't say [him playing is] out of the question. But I also wouldn't say — if he doesn't play, it's not a setback."
Time — and how Williams' body responds to the team's ramp-up plan — will tell. Williams initially faced a four-to-six week recovery timeline when he sustained the injury on Sept. 15. The four-week mark from that date is this Wednesday, Oct. 13. The Grizzlies game is Friday, Oct. 15.
"I wouldn't heal like that, that's for sure," Donovan chided of Williams' recovery. Even as he rehabs, Williams getting shots up has been a common sight around the Advocate Center throughout camp.
The Bulls get a five-day break between their preseason finale and regular-season opener on Oct. 20 in Detroit against the Pistons, so Williams being available against the Grizzlies would bode well for both him and the team, which has been without its starting power forward all preseason.