Williams started the first five games this season before suffering a left wrist injury, which required surgery in October to repair torn ligaments. The Bulls did not rule him out from playing again this season when they released their initial time table for his return, but his improvement since the surgery has Donovan optimistic Williams could play again.
"I feel pretty good about the way he's progressing from what I've heard," Donovan said prior to Sunday's 119-108 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. "I think there's a very strong possibility, if he continues to progress, that he could be back before the regular season ends."
Donovan added no date is set for Williams' return. Williams is still wearing a small brace on his left wrist, but he often puts up shots at the end of a team shootaround or warm-ups, sometimes one-handed. The forward was averaging 6.6 points and 2.2 rebounds during his second season in the NBA after the Bulls made him the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 draft.
Williams was the first Bulls player sidelined before the team was hit by a wave of injuries, but Donovan was also encouraged that the team could be whole again this year.
Lonzo Ball (knee) got off crutches recently and should be on target for a mid-to-late-March return. Donovan said Alex Caruso (wrist) is doing well, although his timeline was less clear. Zach LaVine (back spasms) missed his second straight game on Sunday, but Donovan was not sure if he would be available for the second half of the back-to-back Monday.
"There may be an opportunity, if everything falls right, that maybe 10, 12, 14 games left in the year, we could have our whole team back," Donovan said.
DeMar DeRozan scored a season-high 45 points in the loss to the Sixers, but the focus of the postgame availabilities was more about the long-term outlook for Chicago, especially with the trade deadline approaching.
"We're missing Lonzo Ball, one of the top point guards in the league. Alex Caruso, one of the best defenders in this league. Patrick Williams, one of the young stars in this league. We haven't had those guys, but we have them, and they'll be back," he said. "We don't need to worry or stress about having nobody else. Those three right there, I guarantee every team in the NBA wish they had those three guys. We gone get those three back and we'll be fine."