Alex Caruso Credits LeBron James for New Bulls Contract

Alex Caruso

Getty Alex Caruso and LeBron James high five during the 2020 NBA Playoffs.

Arturas Karnisovas and the Chicago Bulls made a number of moves throughout the offseason, including the signing of former Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso.

A member of the 2020 title team, he brings a defensive prowess and championship experience to the Windy City.

Caruso signed a four-year, $37-million contract with the Bulls in July, after four seasons in Los Angeles.

And it’s one of his former Lakers teammates that he credits for landing in Chicago on his current contract.

You may have heard of him, he’s somewhat of a household name: four-time league MVP and 17-time All-Star LeBron James.

Caruso told the media (via NBC Sports) that his contract is a byproduct of playing with the four-time champion:

I owe a lot to him for where I am today. Obviously, I put a lot of work in, but he makes me look good. He makes the team look good. When you win, everybody gets paid. Everybody gets to do a job. Being part of his legacy and being a part of that team for the last couple years was fun for me.

Over four seasons and 184 appearances with the “LakeShow,” the 27-year old averaged 5.9 points, 2.4 assists, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game.

Now with the Chicago Bulls, Alex Caruso will look to vindicate LeBron James’ last assist to him and continue improving.

So far, so good.

Caruso Shines in Preseason Opener

When the United Center crowd welcomed Alex Caruso with a deafening ovation as he checked in for the Chicago Bulls’ preseason opener, the fifth-year guard was surprised:

I was a little surprised it was as loud when I first came in. I would like it to be a little more warranted with some success and winning. But hopefully we’ll get to that point.

Based on how the team played, including Caruso, winning basketball sure seems within the realm of possibility.

The point guard finished with 10 assists in 20 minutes of play, including a number of flashy dishes and lob dimes.

Everything fans saw on the floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers should incite optimism moving forward.

And it’s done the same for Caruso, too, apparently:

We just have good chemistry, I think. So far through our few weeks of being together, we kind of know how everybody plays. I’ve spoken about it before, but having guys like Zach (LaVine), DeMar, Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) who are really unselfish All-Stars and important players in this league makes it easy for everyone else to fall in line and do that.

But as much as Alex Caruso’s passing impressed, the Chicago Bulls are more excited about what he offers on the other end.

Caruso Labeled the James-Harden Stopper

In a September 26 article for Pippen Ain’t Easy, Andrew Miller explored Alex Caruso’s star-stopping defense.

The former Los Angeles Lakers guard has had particular success guarding Brooklyn Nets’ guard James Harden.

From Miller’s latest:

Caruso defended Harden in more than three-dozen possessions last season. And in that time, Harden only hit one field goal (which was a three-pointer), and turned the ball over three times. The exception here was the fact that Harden did get nine assists while Caruso defended him last season.

Assists aren’t hard to come by for Harden, a member of the Borough’s Big Three with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

But as Miller goes on to detail, trips to the free-throw line have been hard to come by, at least when being guarded by Caruso:

Yet, the fact that Caruso never fouled Harden in that number of possessions defending him is insanely impressive. Harden averaged around 10 free-throw attempts per 100 possessions last season, and 12.5 in his career.

Trust that if the Chicago Bulls are to make a deep playoff run in the Eastern Conference next season, they’ll inevitably be matched up with James Harden and the 2022 title favorite Brooklyn Nets.

Alex Caruso could become the ultimate x-factor in that series, based on his past experience with the 2018 MVP.

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