Hilariously high asking price for Alex Caruso is good sign for Bulls

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Just 10 days ago, reports stemmed from inside the Chicago Bulls that both Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams were to be made essentially ‘untouchable’. Fast forward to today, and now Caruso is allegedly being shopped on the open market.

If that doesn’t describe the current state of the Chicago Bulls as an organization to you, I’m not sure what else would. Now, that doesn’t mean the Bulls are on the brink of executing a firesale of their top talent; that being said, the fact it’s even a possibility proves that this team is in make-or-break territory at the midpoint of the 2022-23 season.

NBA insider Marc Stein had a few key tidbits to share on his substack yesterday (subscription required). Stein has proven to be a reliable source of information in the past and has done a great job of rounding up a whole host of tips and rumors around the league ahead of the February 9 trade deadline.

Here’s what Stein reports he’s heard surrounding the Bulls’ camp:

"“Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports, on his Please Don’t Aggregate This live audio show on Callin, said he’s heard rumbles about the Bulls wanting two future first-round picks to part with Alex Caruso. Do not be surprised, league sources say, if the Bulls move former All-Star center Andre Drummond before the Feb. 9 trade. Drummond has been allotted fewer than 15 minutes in each of Chicago’s past 12 games.”"

Over the past few weeks, the Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks have been repeatedly mentioned as teams interested in acquiring Caruso’s services. Currently leading the NBA in steals per 100 possessions and several advanced defensive metrics, it makes sense that Caruso would be a hot commodity on the market.

The Chicago Bulls would be foolish to trade Alex Caruso away for anything less than a large haul of draft picks or young talent.

If that asking price seems a little high to you, that’s because it is. General managers all across the league still seem to be reeling from the blockbuster Rudy Gobert trade that drastically impacted the valuation of the league’s talent this past summer. If Utah was able to fetch such a high price for Gobert, some managers still believe that they can also charge a premium for their own talent. Stein corroborates that theory here.

"“Prices are still generally high for the best players presumed to be in play; Detroit, just to name one example, is still seeking an unprotected first-round pick for Bojan Bogdanović.”"

That’s why I believe the Bulls played their cards well here. By starting the asking price out at two first-round picks, they’ll then be able to negotiate down to a solid unprotected first-round big or a late first-round pick and an interesting prospect to match. If Chicago let teams know they’re fishing for just one pick from the start, other teams would have likely inquired with offers of multiple second-rounders ⁠— as we just saw the Lakers do to acquire 2019 lottery pick Rui Hachimura.

Under contract through 2025, the Bulls are under no pressure to find a deal right now. Caruso significantly contributes to this team’s culture and will still be highly sought after in the summer, at next year’s deadline, or whenever the Bulls decide the time is right to move on. There’s simply no reason to sell him for a nickel on the dime right now.

That’s why I believe it’s a good idea for Chicago to look into selling off its less impactful pieces right now, like the aforementioned Andre Drummond. Still, if the right offer for Caruso comes along then Chicago will most certainly entertain it. Doing so would likely signal the end of the Chicago Bulls’ intentions to contend, and may ultimately be better for this team in the long run. That idea hinges on another team being willing to pick up the phone and offer something substantial, however, so stay tuned as we inch ever closer to this year’s trade deadline.

Next. DeRozan is steering a sinking ship in Chicago. dark