Valuing Alex Caruso, Free Agency Jitters, Booker Matches MJ, and Other Bulls Bullets
With where the Chicago Bulls are at, we have to accept the small victories. And Alex Caruso earning his first All-Defensive Team honor on Tuesday is undoubtedly one of those victories.
- I shared the fact in the article above, but I want to reiterate it: Alex Caruso is the first player to make an All-Defensive Team without making the playoffs since Andrei Kirilenko in 2005-06. Is that a frustrating reminder of the Bulls’ underwhelming season? Absolutely. But it’s also a reminder of just how darn elite Caruso had to be to make the cut.
- For a team built around three offensive-minded All-Stars, it was defense where they thrived. Chicago finished top 5 in defensive rating during the regular season and forced opponents into the 8th-most turnovers per game. They also scored the 4th-most points off turnovers per game. So, yeah, basically anything the Bulls did successfully this season, Caruso had a significant hand in.
- With that in mind, it’s a little bit easier to understand why the Bulls reportedly set a price of two first-round picks for his services at the deadline. The fact of the matter is that he’s extremely valued inside the organization, and they seemingly view his skillset as representative of the identity they are trying to establish. Now, does that mean I think he should be considered untouchable? Absolutely not. The Bulls aren’t in a place to hold anyone to that standard. But I am perfectly ok with them establishing a very high asking price, particularly after he just made an All-Defensive First Team. Either he’s on the team and making them better, or he’s getting the organization a great return as arguably one of the best value contracts in the league.
- The closer we get toward free agency, the more nervous I get about limited change. Not only am I worried about the front office remaining stubborn when it comes to this core, but the Bulls have so few assets to work with. The smart thing would likely be to offload some talent and take a step back to retool and eventually take a step forward. But Arturas Karnisovas gave zero indication that he plans to do that during his end-of-season press conference.
- To their credit, we have seen the folks upstairs get creative in the past. They basically built this entire roster through the trade market, showing they will not hesitate to seek out sign-and-trade options. But the draft capital thing is what scares me. They don’t have an endless supply of picks to get deals over the hump (not even second-rounders!). Not to mention, the value of their one extra lottery-protected first-round pick from Portland remains rather ambiguous. Again, this is why it feels like moving on from one of their three “core” players would be the best way to add assets that can lead to impact moves down the road.
- Speaking of which, will Nikola Vucevic stay or go? If it’s the latter, who are some options that will hit the free-agent market?
- It always goes back to Michael! What an absurd stat.
- If it’s not Michael, it’s usually Wilt.
- Stacey King will bring on the former Bulls’ head coach Phil Jackson later this week on the Gimme the Hot Sauce Podcast. I’m very interested to see what those two discuss.
- The Bears will not head overseas this upcoming season.
- I can not believe the number of seats they’ve already sold. PLEASE LAND WEMBY NOW!
AK’s Former Team Makes the Finals, Has LeBron or MJ Been Swept More? Joakim’s Impact, and Other Bulls Bullets