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Thunder Reportedly Interested in Chicago Forward

The Thunder are said to be interested in Patrick Williams.

The Thunder could offer Bulls Chicago forward Patrick Williams a contract as he moves into free agency, per reports. The Thunder are looking to upgrade their roster after a second-round playoff exit and adding another young forward like Williams could be ideal.

Thunder Reportedly Interested in Chicago Forward

As Patrick Williams enters restricted free agency from the Chicago Bulls, the Oklahoma City Thunder are reportedly scouting out a move for the center. According to Bulls beat reporter Darnell Mayberry, the Bulls offered him a contract valued at over $16 million annually, which will be the number to beat.

“If the Bulls have seen enough of the Williams experiment, one team that has great interest, a league source said, is Oklahoma City,” Mayberry wrote in his column. “The Thunder need more size, and they have an army of draft picks that can sweeten the pot for the Bulls if a sign-and-trade emerges in July.”

Williams, the #4 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, has struggled with consistency in his four seasons in Chicago. He suffered a dislocated wrist in the 2021/22, which limited him to 17 total appearances. Williams played only 43 games with the Bulls this season due to a lingering foot injury that required surgery.

“For me, it was kind of frustrating because I’m thinking I’m ramping up,” Williams told The Athletic. “And we were kind of shooting at a date around the end of the month to come back. When you hear that news, it’s kind of devastating.”

The 6’7 forward averaged 10 points, nearly four rebounds, and 1.5 assists in limited time this season. Williams shot 40% from three, with 47/40/79 shooting splits. His biggest concerns come off the court — observers are questioning his drive coming off the bench and his lack of aggression in close games.

Why Does The Thunder Want Patrick Williams?

Coming from the Thunder’s perspective, they desperately need the size and perimeter shooting that comes with Patrick Williams. Aside from the 7’0 Chet Holmgren and 6’8 wing Josh Giddey, the Thunder’s rotation all measure below six-foot-five. Veteran centers Bismack Biyombo and Mike Muscala are set to leave in free agency this off-season. Oklahoma City ranked fourth-worst in rebounding and second-worst in offensive rebounding. The Thunder are heavily leaning on Holmgren, Giddey, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for rebounding, something that hasn’t helped with spacing and has disrupted their ability to play their free-flowing brand of basketball.

We saw it in the Thunder’s playoff series loss against the Mavs. Although Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic were nearly unstoppable in the Western Conference semi-finals, the series was won in the paint. It was shown by the key performances of PJ Washington. Washington averaged 8.3 rebounds against the Thunder, a 2.7-rebound increase from his regular season stats. Dereck Lively II, Daniel Gafford, and even Doncic thrived in Oklahoma City.

Would The Fit Be Right?

On the flip side, Williams has struggled with consistent playing time and usage of the ball in Chicago. Amid tumultuous ownership and tension with head coach Billy Donovan, Williams could search for a fresh start and a place to revitalize his career. On a young Thunder team projected to forge a deep playoff run next year, Williams could not only see playing time but also a significant frontcourt role.

The biggest obstacle to a potential Patrick Williams move to the Thunder is, of course, the Chicago Bulls. The Reinsdorf ownership wants to avoid a repeat of the Lauri Markkanen situation. Where they moved on from him too quickly and Markkanen became an All-Star talent. Despite the injuries and inconsistency, Williams’ game is still appealing to several NBA franchises. Chicago will want to keep him, which was the reason for the huge $16 million contract offer. If the Florida State alum accepts the deal, he’ll be the fourth-best-paid player on the team.

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