Exec Sounds Off on Trade Interest Surrounding Bulls Fan Favorite

Chicago Bulls

Getty Alex Caruso #6 and Javonte Green #24 of the Chicago Bulls battle for a rebound.

Time heals all wounds. In sports, that translates to winning solves everything. And, for a Chicago Bulls team that was on a four-game skid, getting a convincing 121-107 victory over the visiting Boston Celtics.

The Bulls account for half of the Celtics’ losses this season after also getting a 120-102 victory in the first meeting, though they did drop a close contest in Boston.

For now, rumblings surrounding the likes of Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams can be put to rest.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of the league is convinced – encouraging as it is, one game doesn’t erase all of the flaws the Bulls showed in losing six of the previous seven games. As such, trade rumors will not immediately disappear around the team that looked primed to hit the reset button just days ago and who could have an asset other teams desire.

Will the Carushow Go?

For the consternation over LaVine’s remarks following his benching against the Orlando Magic (which LaVine responded well to against Boston), or the grief Williams has taken for coming along at his pace, it’s another Bulls’ key piece that could see other teams come calling.

“Caruso is getting some interest,” a rival executive tells Heavy Sports’ NBA Insider Sean Deveney. “They’re not putting him on the market at this point but when it comes to possible moves down the line, he is the guy to watch. He has value even if he has struggled a little bit and it’s a position of strength for the Bulls.”

The Bulls got Caruso using their mid-level exception on a deal worth $37 million over four years last offseason in a deal that has looked like a steal since he arrived.

This is even with him missing half of the season with a wrist injury. Though he battled other injuries last season and has throughout his career due to a physically demanding playing style, it is the wrist injury that could be most concerning long term.

“He hasn’t been the same this year,” the exec told Deveney. “He is shooting it all right and his defense is not bad but going to the rim, he has been so, so ineffective. You can crowd his shot more now because he has had a hard time converting at the basket, he is really down near the bottom of the league when it comes to that. That is a big concern.”

To the executive’s point, Caruso is shooting 37.2% from downtown, the third-highest mark of his career. But his 43.8% conversion rate on 2s is the second-worst mark of his career.

He’s hitting just 45% of his looks within five feet this season, down from 51% last year.

“If they can swap him out for a young guy who can bring in some frontcourt help, they would.”

Drawing the Line

Two things bring up red flags in the exec’s lasting take on Caruso’s standing. He’s their best point-of-attack defender as well as arguably their most versatile guarding point guards to power forwards on any given night, sometimes on the same possession, and holding his own.

The Bulls also have a minus-8.8 net rating when he’s been off the floor this season, per Cleaning The Glass.

Caruso himself is posting a plus-16 net rating, the best on the team.

When paired with second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu, who is filling in as a starter for the injured Lonzo Ball, the Bulls have a plus-3.8 net rating ranking in the 68th percentile.

With his defense steady as ever and h

is three-ball falling – 6-for-10 over the last three games – moving Caruso would be a clear signal this team is gearing up to go in a different direction. It was just one win on Monday but the Bulls surely did not have the look of a team on the brink of sunsetting this current group or the playoff aspirations they have.

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