Teams Are Calling About Alex Caruso, And the Bulls Have Reportedly Set a *HIGH* Asking Price
Fresh off a loss to the 13-win Charlotte Hornets — and now tied with the Washington Wizards for the final Play-In Tournament spot — the Chicago Bulls have some tough decisions to make.
The second-half surge that was so palpable just a week ago has all but evaporated. And now, calls for the team to change course and shake up the roster are louder than ever (including from me!). It isn’t yet clear if they will, but the Bulls trade rumors are certainly starting to pick up steam with the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline less than two weeks away.
For example, Eric Pincus (Bleacher Report) recently suggested that the Bulls “could part ways” with elite defender Alex Caruso at the deadline. That came in contrast to prior rumors that the Bulls viewed the veteran guard as “untouchable.” At the time, we found those rumors to be (at best) confusing, and likely motivated by leverage. And that seems especially likely now that more folks are echoing Pincus’ sentiment.
In the last 24 hours alone, Jake Fischer (Yahoo Sports) reported that the Bulls believe they can get two first-round picks for Alex Caruso (h/t HoopsHype). And K.C. Johnson (NBC Sports Chicago) confirmed in a recent mailbag that several teams do have their sights set on Caruso.
Multiple teams have inquired about Alex Caruso, per sources. The Knicks have scouted Caruso of late and own first-round picks that could be dangled with a contract like Obi Toppin if the Bulls show any inclination of trading their defensive ace. The Golden State Warriors also are cited by league sources as a potential suitor.
Mix a report about the Bulls’ asking price with a report about specific teams calling, and I think it’s safe to say the Bulls have had some legitimate discussions about trading Caruso.
Now, having said that, coveting two first-round picks in exchange does make it clear that the Bulls aren’t going to trade Caruso for the sake of trading Caruso. They will have to be blown away by an offer, and that’s absolutely the right approach to take. It also aligns – more or less – with their view of him being untouchable. In reality, no one is untouchable, it’s just a short-hand for “you’d REALLY have to blow us away.”
But even in that case, this makes sense. As one of the top defensive players on one of the most team-friendly contracts in the NBA, Caruso should cost a lot to acquire. Not to mention, this is the exact time of year when you should demand an extravagant return. Teams are desperate to add high-impact role players for a stretch run, and the Bulls are in a position to take advantage of that bidding war.
Moreover, the Knicks and Warriors are the exact kind of teams from which the Bulls should hope to field interest. Whether it be the Knicks’ stockpile of first-rounders or the Warriors’ stockpile of young talent, both potential buyers have intriguing assets to demand back in a trade.
More specifically, if I’m speaking to New York, I want the Knicks’ 2023 first-rounder and the 2023 first-rounder they have via Dallas (top-10 protected). Then, they can either include Obi Toppin or Isaiah Hartenstein to help make salary work.
If I’m speaking to Golden State, I want a very lightly protected future first-round pick (somewhere between 2026-2028) and some young talent. Moses Moody would likely make the most sense, but I’m not completely out on considering a change of scenery for former No. 2-overall pick James Wiseman (especially with the center position in doubt). Patrick Baldwin Jr. would also be a nice throw-in.
I know that all of this sounds like a lot, but that’s exactly how the Bulls must approach each negotiation. They don’t have to trade Caruso. He is a great locker room presence and defensive leader. If you want to add that to your team, you better be ready to give up a king’s ransom.
More on what makes Caruso so special …