Patrick Williams has been cleared to face full contact, Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan told reporters before Wednesday night's matchup with the Utah Jazz.
That means Williams, who has been sidelined since Oct. 28 after undergoing surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left wrist, is cleared to fully participate in team practices. A big step.
Now begins the period of physically ramping up toward a return to game action.
"A lot's gonna now depend on how it goes once he does that (practices), and what does medical feel and he feel like [is] an ample amount of time for him to get comfortable actually going into a game," Donovan said.
While the team's ramp-up plan for Williams isn't yet set in stone, Donovan said him participating in practices and games with the Bulls' G League affiliate is on the table. Williams stayed in Chicago for the team's three-game West Coast road trip, which stopped in Sacramento on Monday, Utah on Wednesday, and closes in Phoenix on Friday.
"We'll try to get him some legitimate contact, maybe over the next few days," Donovan said.
Williams has already been ruled out for the Suns game, and Donovan made it sound as if a return for next Monday's home matchup with the Toronto Raptors is a long shot. His only window to appear in a Windy City Bulls game before Monday is Sunday, when the team hosts the Knicks' affiliate at the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates.
"After the Phoenix game we have two days, those will be two big days for him back there," Donovan said. "After the Toronto game I think I'll have a better idea (of how long he'll need to ramp up before returning)."
When Williams does return for the big league Bulls, Donovan has said he prefers to integrate the second-year forward in an off-the-bench role. Williams started 71 of 72 games for the Bulls in his rookie season, and the first five of 2021-22, but is approaching five months away from game action. As the Bulls tread cautiously with his rehab, they will with his return.
Still, his presence will be welcome to a frontcourt in need as the team gears up for the playoffs. And he's getting closer.
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