After years of mediocrity, the Bulls are reportedly finally open to trade talks around Zach LaVine. This suggests that they are on their path to blowing it up completely.
Many mock trades actually send LaVine, who signed an offer sheet with the Kings in 2018, to Sacramento, but the Bulls’ defensive mastermind Alex Caruso would be a much better fit. Losing him would be a tough loss for the Bulls, but it is one of the moves they might have to make to gather assets for a rebuild in the wake of moving their All-Stars.
The Kings don’t need another star right now—they have no reason to make a rash win-now move and give up all their assets for another star—but they could use a defensive stopper like Caruso.
Caruso generally does not create a lot for himself offensively but he is currently making 52.9 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes and can explode for a big scoring game every once in a while. He just put up 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 3 steals in an overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns.
As that stat line shows, he makes big plays defensively. After being named to the All-Defensive First Team last season, he is showing no signs of slowing down.
Some of his top matchups this season were Kevin Durant, Tyrese Halliburton, and Luka Doncic. Durant scored four points, shooting 1-7 from the field, over the 28.1 partial possessions that Caruso guarded him. Halliburton (1-3 FG, 0-1 3P) and Doncic (1-5 FG, 0-2 3P) likewise only scored two points each while Caruso defended them.
Over nine games played this season, he already tallied a total of 33 deflections, which ranks sixth in the NBA right now, and drew three charges, which is good for eight-most.
Caruso would be a great fit for the Kings
Caruso does all the little things Mike Brown wants his guards to do defensively. That alone would make him a good fit for the Kings but he has other qualifications as well. First of all, he knows how to play his role incredibly well while letting star players do their thing.
Secondly, he fits into pretty much every lineup and does what is asked of him no matter the players around him. Caruso could give the Kings a great defensive boost and energy off the bench while being more experienced and maybe more consistent offensively than Davion Mitchell, Colby Jones, and Keon Ellis.
As of now, Caruso is averaging 7.8 points, shooting 59.1 percent from the field and 44 percent from three, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 steals in about 23 minutes a game. Those numbers would look good on the Kings.
Trading for Caruso would be a low-risk move for the Kings
Caruso is currently in the middle of a four-year $37 million deal he signed in 2021. That is a team-friendly deal and much easier and less riskier to acquire than LaVine’s giant contract.
The former champion is worth at least a first-round pick, so the Kings could either act as a third party in a trade that sends LaVine to a team that does not have much draft compensation to offer or make their own deal.
Currently, the Kings do not have an open roster spot since acquiring Filip Petrusev from the Clippers, so they could also offer one of their young players in the deal. Otherwise, they would have to make room by waiving someone.
If Caruso becomes available, the Kings would have to make a decision quickly, however, because many other teams will be interested in adding a defensive menace to their bench as well.