Going into this past offseason, the Chicago Bulls knew they needed to make some major moves in order to try and contend in the Eastern Conference for the first time in a while. They had traded for Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline last season to pair with guard Zach LaVine but needed to round out their roster to truly begin to remodel the franchise.
At the start of free agency, they signed point guard Lonzo Ball to upgrade their rotation but soon after turned to another target of theirs in the form of Alex Caruso. The 27-year-old guard agreed to sign with Chicago after spending his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, carving out a spot as one of the more valuable role players.
Originally, he was on a two-way deal with the Lakers but slowly started to show that he could indeed play in the league, and his value increased. Caruso signing with the Bulls made all the sense in the world as his ferocious attacking style of defense, passing ability, and ability to space the floor made him a hot commodity in the open market.
Needless to say, he has been at the forefront of helping Chicago earn its place as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. He brought championship experience to Chicago from the Lakers and even earned the trust and a nickname from LeBron James of all people during his time in LA. The nickname “GOAT” was stowed upon Caruso during his time in Los Angeles from the King and he quickly became a fan favorite.
Yet James isn’t the only one that Caruso has impressed, as Golden State Warriors coach, Steve Kerr, said that he was really happy to see Caruso go to the Eastern Conference and away from the rival Lakers. That is high praise for a player that is seen as a role player but shows just how much people around the league respect Caruso.
His four-year, 37-million-dollar contract seems like a steal for Chicago and raises the question as to why the Lakers didn’t feel the need to bring him back to their own roster. His perimeter defense is something that Los Angeles has severely lacked thus far this season and his lack of presence has been clearly missed.
Mixed reports came out that the Lakers tried to lowball Caruso and that he even went back to Los Angeles to see if they would match the Bulls’ offer but they declined. The Lakers ended up bringing in Russell Westbrook and a load of veteran one-year deals but the decision to not bring back Caruso may have been the worst decision for the franchise since Rob Pelinka took over as the teams’ general manager. If the reports are true, then Caruso made the correct decision to leave and go to Chicago.
Caruso is only averaging a little under nine points a game with Chicago but his high-energy and style of play is something that the Bulls very much covet. He has talked about the chemistry of the Bulls that already has been built, something that is crucial when attempting to win a championship. Caruso made both a business and life-changing decision to leave the comfort of Los Angeles and it seems to be working out very well thus far.
This young Bulls team seems to be growing every game they play together, and Caruso is helping lead the charge. NBA fans are finally starting to see his value and along with the other moves that Chicago made in the offseason, the Bulls are soaring and are proving to be a problem for opposing teams.