The Chicago Bulls are going to be a team other teams monitor closely early in the season.
They are coming off a disappointing 2022-23 campaign and have several veteran players at or near the end of their contracts. A slow start to the 2023-24 season could see them shift their focus toward the future and, if it does, one name to keep an eye on is Alex Caruso who Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report believes could be a “top” trade target for the Sacramento Kings.
“At some point…this defense will likely need beefing up,” Buckley wrote on August 28. “The Kings could also covet the reliability of…Caruso. “
Caruso, 29, averaged 5.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while shooting a career-high 45.5% from the floor, connecting on 36.4% of his threes, and earning First Team All-Defensive Honors last season.
Caruso had the best on-off differential on the team last season at plus-9.7, ranking in the 93rd percentile, per Cleaning The Glass.
He is heading into the third year of a three-year, $36.9 million contract.
“I feel like the Bulls play good defense on me,” Brooklyn Nets guard Cam Thomas said on the “The SchuZ Show” on August 10. “I feel like they played good defense on me that game. … Caruso, all those guys played pretty solid defense on me that game.”
Alex Caruso ‘Hardest Guard’ to Trade For Last Season
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has placed a high value on his stars in trade talks and Caruso was no different at the February trade deadline.
“The hardest guard on the market to get? Chicago’s Alex Caruso, who nearly a dozen teams have serious interest in,” wrote Matt Moore of Action Network on January 29. “Chicago knows the market for him. Some teams have backed away, believing they won’t be able to win a bidding war for Caruso.”
Buckley also floated Nets veteran Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green of the Dallas Mavericks as options for the Kings who snapped the longest postseason drought in sports last season, sporting the top-rated offense but the 24th-rated defense.
“None of these targets would be particularly cheap,” Buckley added. “But if Sacramento…might be motivated by the roster convincing the front office that it’s ready to take the next step.”
Bulls Built Up Defense This Offseason
The Bulls boasted a top-five defensive unit last season and, after the All-Star break, they ranked second in the NBA. This offseason they set about bolstering it even further with the additions of Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig.
Both are solid defenders that should allow Caruso to be used in select matchups.
Head coach Billy Donovan has not been shy about using him in a variety of ways in his two seasons with the Bulls after winning a title in 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers. But Caruso has dealt with injury issues dating back to that time with his 67 appearances last season setting a new career-high mark.