Arutras Karnisovas knows how to keep things close to the vest, and he reminded us of this a couple of hours into free agency.
The Chicago Bulls have signed Lakers guard Alex Caruso to a four-year deal with $37 million.
Free agent guard Alex Caruso has agreed to a four-year, $37M deal with the Chicago Bulls, his agent Greg Lawrence of @Wasserman tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 3, 2021
Can confirm the Alex Caruso signing that @wojespn first reported, which is the majority of the full MLE over 4 years.
Bulls still have BAE and minimums to round out roster up front.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) August 3, 2021
Uh, yeah, to say I did not see this coming would be an understatement … but that does not mean I don’t like it!
While I know this deal may feel a bit offputting at first, let’s look at more on an annual basis. Caruso will be playing on a $9.25 million AAV, which is practically the entire mid-level exception, which the Bulls opened by working as an over-the-cap team. Paying Caruso that much per year, in my opinion, feels pretty damn palatable. After all, The Athletic’s John Hollinger puts Caruso’s value for next season at roughly $12 million.
Caruso is a fierce on-ball defender whose scrappiness certainly helped the Los Angeles Lakers finish near the top of the defensive ranking over the past couple of seasons. Additionally, he hits the 3-ball at a very efficient clip (40.1 percent in 2020-21), gets to the rim when he needs to (33 percent of takes come at the cup, which ranks in the 82nd percentile), and limits his turnovers. But the Bulls clearly seem to prioritize defensive and offensive versatility in their free agency period thus far. Caruso and Ball are two players who can slot in at the wing or point guard position.
Losing Alex Caruso is a tough blow for the Lakers’ defense. He’s one of the best defensive guards in the league, and was probably the second-most impactful defender on the No. 1 defense in the regular season. There’s no replacing him with what’s available to LA in free agency.
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) August 3, 2021
We will have more on this soon.