Bulls Fan-Favorite Starter Linked to Eastern Conference Foe

Alex Caruso

Getty Alex Caruso #6, Chicago Bulls

In a December 27 NBC Sports Chicago story, Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson detailed who was among the Bulls’ best trade assets. Coming in at No. 3 was Alex Caruso. While Jones listed the Golden State Warriors as a team rumored to be interested in Caruso, Johnson also listed the New York Knicks as another possible suitor.

“The defensive-minded guard would be a plug-and-play reserve — and closer — for virtually any contender or team serious about making a playoff push. Golden State has been one prominently mentioned rumor. The Knicks also make sense,” Johnson said.

The Knicks are 18-17, which puts them in a three-way tie with the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference standings. What may potentially stop a deal involving Caruso between the Bulls and the Knicks is that the Bulls aren’t too far behind their Eastern Conference rivals, being only two and a half games in back of that three-way tie.

Time will tell if the Bulls plan to keep their roster the way it is or start over. While the season hasn’t gone exactly as planned for them, the Bulls aren’t completely out of the playoff picture in the East.

Caruso Called ‘Guy to Watch’ on Trade Market

An Eastern Conference executive revealed to Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney that, if the Bulls decide to rebuild, Caruso is the guy to keep an eye on because he’s shown he can help teams win and his affordable contract.

“The guy to watch is (Alex) Caruso,” the executive told Deveney. “Caruso has a contract that teams like (two years, $19 million after this season), and he is a good piece on a winning team. If we get into mid-January and they have not turned it around, look for a team that sees itself as a contender to make a run for him because he is really only an asset playing a role on a good team.”

The executive then revealed which playoff-caliber teams could potentially be interested in Caruso if he hits the market.

“Teams like Phoenix or Miami, both would be in a position to make a trade like that. Even the Warriors, they could send out a young guy, a guy like (James) Wiseman, to get into win-now mode. Philadelphia, same thing. They could offer some of their young guys—Matisse Thybulle, Shake (Milton) and add another guy to make the salaries work. The Lakers certainly would like to have him back if they had the young guys to do it,” the exec said.

Caruso’s Injury Status

Caruso suffered a shoulder injury when the Bulls took on the Hawks on December 21, which has caused him to miss the next three games against the Knicks, Houston Rockets, and Milwaukee Bucks.

Caruso was initially deemed questionable when the Bulls played against the Bucks before being ruled out.

On December 27, Billy Donovan revealed that the last step in Caruso’s concussion protocol was facing contact, which had been delayed because of his shoulder injury, per Rob Schaefer.

All indications are that Caruso will return from injury sooner rather than later.

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