Bulls Set Extremely High Price on Lockdown Ace at Trade Deadline: Report

Alex Caruso Mark Williams Bulls-Hornets

Getty Alex Caruso and Mark Williams battle for possession of the ball during a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Charlotte Hornets.

For a team that did literally nothing at the NBA trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls sure figured heavily into the hot-stove chatter around the Association.

Whether it was because they have desirable vets on shorter-term deals (DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic), a young star seemingly at odds with the head coach (Zach LaVine) or an underperforming lottery pick (Patrick Williams) potentially needing a fresh start, the noise surrounding Chicago was considerable.

Of course, when you’re fielding a roster as talented and expensive as the Bulls’ and you’re barely in the playoff race, trade chatter is going to happen.

In any case, the aforementioned were far from the only ballers whose names were fixtures on the ESPN trade machine and the hoops blogosphere at large. For his part, Alex Caruso was seemingly the apple of every contending team’s eye. It’s almost shocking that the Golden State Warriors didn’t end up securing his services.

That said, if a new report from Yahoo! Sports’ Jake Fischer is to be believed, the Bulls set the price on Caruso so high that no one was going to match it.

Bulls Apparently Sought Multiple Picks or Equivalent Return in Trade for Alex Caruso

Alex Caruso Has Been Lights Out For The Bulls! (#1 in Steals) 🔥We Value Your Feedback! Help Us Improve By Taking This YouTube Survey ➡️ app.link.nba.com/e/Survey Subscribe to the NBA: on.nba.com/2JX5gSN2021-12-02T11:00:05Z

According to Fischer, there were “few players available ahead of this year’s deadline that executives graded as worthy of their precious remaining firsts.” And those that were worth the price had GMs asking for even more in potential deals.

That’s apparently what happened with Caruso, who’s averaging 5.5 points, 3.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game in 2022-23 while shooting 38.1% from deep. Wrote Fischer: “The Chicago Bulls told various inquiring teams they could get upward of two first-rounders for Alex Caruso.”

In a world where only one first-round pick changed hands — alongside multiple players and second-rounders — in the Kyrie Irving trade, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Caruso would garner two (or more). That said, Caruso was a hot commodity at the deadline for a reason.

Aside from his impressive all-around skill set, disruptive defensive style and overall positive impact — the Bulls have been 7.8 points/100 possessions better when he has been on the court this season — Caruso is also on one of the more team-friendly deals in the game.

The Bulls guard is currently signed through the 2024-25 campaign at an average of just $9.46 million per annum. And the final year of his contract holds only a partial guarantee.

Bulls Continue to Fall in NBA Power Rankings

Given the fact that the club is riding a six-game losing streak into the All-Star Break, it should come as little surprise that people aren’t so bullish on the Bulls these days. But some outlets have been especially harsh in evaluating Chicago’s situation.

In the latest edition of Bleacher Report’s NBA power rankings, Caruso’s squad dropped two spots to No. 26 overall. Wrote B/R’s Andy Bailey:

The Chicago Bulls were 26-28 and looking about as rudderless as a team can heading into a trade deadline they simply passed on.

The team could’ve justified being buyers or sellers, but instead, it did nothing. And now, it has lost six straight heading into the All-Star break.

There’s some buzz about the team landing Russell Westbrook, and while it does feel like the Bulls need to do something, they might have to draw the line ahead of signing Russ.

The Bulls are 24th, 28th and 15th in points per 100 possessions, threes per 100 possessions and three-point percentage, and adding Westbrook to lineups that already have DeMar DeRozan could make an already cramped offense feel like it’s operating in a phone booth.

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