There was a ton of noise surrounding the Bulls and Lonzo Ball, and that deal came together quickly right at the start of free agency. There was not any buzz surrounding the Bulls and Alex Caruso, but he has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $37 million deal, per Woj.
That’s close to the value of the full mid-level exception for Caruso, who reunites with Ball after they were teammates with the Lakers. I’m kind of surprised the Lakers didn’t pay up for Caruso, who was something of a cult hero and a key defensive cog for them.
Caruso averaged 6.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals in 21.0 minutes per game for the Lakers this past season. He shot 43.6% from the field and 40.1% from 3-point range.
The 27-year-old certainly benefited from playing with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but he’s a legit impact defender who makes a lot of winning plays with his defense and hustle (better than Arch). While four years at essentially the full MLE is a bit hefty, smart Lakers fans I follow value what Caruso brings to the table and are upset about losing him. I don’t have high expectations for what he brings to the table offensively, but he should improve the Bulls’ defense and is a solid guard to put next to Zach LaVine.
The Bulls have now added Ball, Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu to the backcourt already this offseason. They’re losing Daniel Theis to the Rockets, but it looks like they’re going to get a trade exception thanks to a sign-and-trade:
Per sources, the Rockets will use the Oladipo trade exception and work a sign-and-trade with the Bulls to get Daniel Theis. https://t.co/PVXE6BqVlM— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) August 3, 2021
The Bulls could technically use this Theis TPE to acquire Caruso, which would then keep the MLE open, but we’ll see how they go about this:
For those asking what could motivate CHI to S&T Theis to HOU (instead of just a TPE): The Bulls could preserve their own MLE by doing a three-team deal with the Rockets and Lakers:— David Weiner (@BimaThug) August 3, 2021
CHI gets: Alex Caruso (S&T)
HOU gets: Daniel Theis (S&T)
LAL gets: a ~$4-5M TPE https://t.co/V9JLmeSV84
More moves to come!