It initially seemed as if Alex Caruso escaped Friday’s loss to the Bucks without a serious injury after Grayson Allen’s dirty play resulted in the Bulls guard taking a hard fall in the third quarter. But Saturday brought terrible news, with the Bulls announcing Caruso will undergo surgery to fix a fractured right wrist. The guard will be reevaluated in 6-8 weeks, putting him on a similar timetable as Lonzo Ball. This is now the second time this season (Patrick Williams) a Bulls player has been injured badly by a flagrant foul.
This injury coming right on the heels of the Ball injury is a killer blow to a Bulls defense that slumped badly when Caruso missed a month, with Lonzo also missing some time during that stretch. Zach LaVine and others are still out as well, though the Bulls star will hopefully be back at some point next week. They’re going to badly need his offense given the defense will surely struggle over this prolonged stretch without Ball and Caruso. At least the upcoming schedule to finish out January softens a bit, and we’ll see how this impacts the trade deadline strategy.
As for the play itself, I’ve seen a lot of people online trying to defend Allen, and I’m just not here for it. The initial play on the ball was fine, but it was the secondary actions after the initial contact that made it unnecessary, reckless, dangerous and worthy of an ejection:
Grayson Allen draws a flagrant 2 for a HARD foul on Alex Caruso pic.twitter.com/NjCJEzo7zu— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) January 22, 2022
January 22, 2022
grabbing on to a guy’s arm and pulling him down while he’s vulnerable and in the air isn’t a “basketball play.” idk who taught you that but make sure both of you never touch a court again in your lifetimes. incredibly dangerous play by Allen pic.twitter.com/8GUdpekc2F— oregon sports sufferer (@sfcbeefo) January 22, 2022
You can miss me with the “soft” league and ‘80s/’90s toughness rhetoric. You can play good, physical basketball without this kind of nonsense. Caruso and Billy Donovan were right to be so pissed after the game, and the Bulls are lobbying for punishment. Caruso’s agent, Greg Lawrence, released a blistering statement to ESPN’s Jamal Collier on Saturday:
“I expect the league will take into consideration not only what was a dangerous, unnecessary, and dirty play on Alex Caruso that caused this significant injury, but also the offending players’ own history,” said Lawrence. “This was a cheap shot on an airborne, defenseless player that resulted in a broken bone that will need to be surgically repaired and will cause Alex to miss at least two months of the season.
“I am hopeful the league levels a punishment that will send a clear message that there is no place in the NBA for what happened to Alex and the Bulls.”
I’m not surprised Mike Budenholzer and Allen’s teammates defended him, but when you toss in Allen’s history (he hasn’t been quite as bad in the NBA), the fact he showed no effort to check on Caruso after the play and then the fact that he was caught smirking on the bench afterward, and he should receive some kind of punishment.
The NBA is apparently still reviewing the play to make a determination on a possible suspension:
Decision on NBA discipline for Milwaukee’s Grayson Allen has not yet been made but the league DOES take into account any injury suffered by the offended player.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 22, 2022
There was also some weirdness on Twitter Saturday when the Bucks’ official account posted a gameday hype video featuring Allen (he’s actually out with a hip injury), which prompted a response from the Bulls’ official account:
I’m guessing (hoping?) this was an honest mistake, and the Bucks’ tweet wound up getting deleted. Either way, this ramps up this Bulls-Bucks rivalry in a big way. The next matchup is another ESPN game, this time at the United Center on March 4. Bulls fans will be out for blood.