Still Can't Believe the Lakers Let Caruso Go, Heading to Miami, No Lillard Trade, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Still Can’t Believe the Lakers Let Caruso Go, Heading to Miami, No Lillard Trade, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Maybe you stubbed your toe. Maybe you burnt your mouth on the first sip of coffee. Maybe you tripped on the sidewalk in front of a super attractive, well-coordinated person. Maybe when you went to dry your hands in the bathroom, a decently sized droplet fell right between your goods and your inner thigh. It’s just water, I swear! Maybe someone put ketchup on your hot dog. Maybe your high school math teacher called 12 years later to quiz you on Logarithms.

Whatever might be causing you to have a bad day, I can recommend one thing to make all the pain go away: Close your eyes, and think about the Lakers letting Alex Caruso walk away.

•   Caruso made a name for himself in Los Angeles. The organization took a chance on one of the G-League’s better defenders, and their development staff was able to help turn him into a pivotal piece on a championship-caliber team. Caruso appeared in 64 games during the 2019-20 regular season before playing in all 21 of the team’s playoff performances. He not only became a Laker fan-favorite, but also an anchor for one of the best defenses in the NBA. However, when the opportunity came to hand him a fresh contract this past offseason, LA failed to pony up. Rumor has it they refused to go higher than a two-year, $15 million deal, which several teams were surely able to blow out of the water, including Chicago with a four-year, $36.9 million offer sheet.

•   The organization has now repeatedly been blasted for letting Caruso leave, a player who openly said on The Old Man & The Three Podcast that he was even willing to take a little less than the Bulls deal to return to a contending LA team. And, hell, they should be! Caruso has easily been an All-NBA caliber defender so far this season. Before going down with a hamstring injury, Caruso led the league in total steals, and he still ranks first-overall in steals per game. His POA defense and relentless ball pressure have been vital to making the Bulls the league’s 5th-ranked defensive unit. Meanwhile, without Caruso’s services, the Lakers have dropped from the NBA’s top-ranked defense to 15th-overall. Opponents score the third-most points per game on this Lakers team, and it’s a big reason they sit just 13-13 and 7th in the Western Conference.

•   The Athletic’s Jovan Buha recently talked a bit more about the Lakers’ big Caruso mistake on The Ringer’s Full Court Fits, and it’s just music to my ears to listen about how the organization fumbled this bag.

•   By the way, Caruso could be back in the lineup tonight against the Miami Heat, which would be at least one game sooner than expected after the team originally shared he would be re-evaluated next week for his hamstring injury. There is no question I want the guy back on the floor ASAP, but I will say I hope this decision has nothing to do with the number of other names on the injury report. Considering how important Caruso is to this team, I want to make sure he is 100 percent before stepping back on the floor. No need to rush things this early in the season, right?

•   The good news for Chicago is they aren’t the only banged-up team in the East. The Heat will be without Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Markieff Morris for tonight’s battle in Miami. To put that further in perspective, Miami will be missing its first and third-leading scorer, as well as one of their more physical rotation players. Now, with that said, the Heat still beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday with these same players on the sideline, and the Bulls are still in line to be absent DeMar DeRozan, Coby White, Javonte Green, Derrick Jones Jr., Matt Thomas, and Patrick Williams. So as banged up as the Heat might be, there is no question the Bulls are still in a far more vulnerable position.

•   The Trail Blazers drama isn’t going anywhere. Off to an 11-15 start, and already in the market for a new front-office leader, changes are coming to the Blazers in more ways than one. The commitment still seems to be there from Damian Lillard to make things work, though, which is why the 76ers’ have still been told not to call about Lillard in any Ben Simmons discussions.



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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.