Bulls' Williams gladly gave shirt off his back to Vucevic
Patrick Williams didn't hesitate to step out of Nikola Vucevic's lane.
Vucevic has worn No. 9 for a long time, so when he was traded to the Bulls from Orlando last week, Williams offered to switch from No. 9 to 44, beginning with last Saturday's game in San Antonio.
"Steve (assistant equipment manager Steve Pankow) called me and said Vuc wants No. 9," Williams explained after Wednesday's shootaround. "It was totally my decision. My initial thoughts were he can have it, 9 for me was just a number."
Late Wednesday night in Phoenix, the Bulls played without Zach LaVine (ankle), Coby White (neck) and Garrett Temple (hamstring), but stayed competitive before losing to the Suns 121-116. The Bulls trimmed a 16-point deficit to 3 points a few times late in the game, but couldn't get a big basket or stop when needed.
Vucevic led the Bulls with 24 points, while Thad Young and Denzel Valentine scored 19 points each. For Phoenix, Devin Booker scored 45 points and hit 17 of 24 shots from the field to stretch the Bulls' losing streak to five in a row.
Coach Billy Donovan went with a big starting lineup, featuring Williams, Vucevic, Young, Tomas Satoransky and Lauri Markkanen. It was an interesting combination. The Bulls didn't show any signs of defensive improvement, but did dominate the rebounds 50-32.
Williams said Pankow and some of the Bulls veterans said the rookie forward should get some money from Vucevic for agreeing to the number change.
"At that point, I was still like, 'Man, you can just give it to him. Say welcome to the Chicago Bulls or something like that,'" Williams said. "But Vuc, my first time texting him I said, 'Do you really want it?' He said, 'Yeah.' He just kind of gave me a price and that was pretty much it.
"I just play basketball. I don't worry about a number. I've always kind of liked No. 4, I'm not sure why. It's just a number. I'm just blessed to be out there and playing the game that I love. So that's the most important thing."
Another development this week was former Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison making a successful debut in Washington, scoring 18 points in his first game with the Wizards.
After the game, Hutchison posted a message on social media saying, "One man's trash ..." But he claimed there were no hard feelings toward the Bulls. He last played for the Bulls on Feb. 5 and was sitting out due to undisclosed personal reasons.
"It's nothing personal against Chicago, that situation made me the person I am right now," Hutchison said. "I put in a lot of work, but I have no ill feelings toward them whatsoever. It's just the excitement about what's to come, and I know I'm going to have a bright future here in Washington."
For his part, Donovan didn't have anything negative to say about Hutchison. Before the trade, Donovan had mentioned that he thought the third-year forward was close to returning.
"He was a great guy to get to know. Obviously he was working through things on his own. I made several comments about really appreciating his honesty and his strength in what he was doing. But I always felt like Chandler and I had a good relationship, so I don't know necessarily who maybe the tweet was directed at or was it just an organizational thing? I'm not quite sure."