NBA Rumors: Bulls’ Alex Caruso On Trade Block; Could Celtics Be Fit?

Caruso won an NBA Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020


Jan 27, 2023

With the Boston Celtics losers of three consecutive games, including a nail-bitter against the New York Knicks at TD Garden on Thursday night, perhaps it’s time for the front office to consider a few potential roster additions before the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline.

Boston has allowed over 110 points per game through the cold streak, one of which came against an Orlando Magic (19-29) squad far beyond playoff contention. And while the recent struggles could be attributed to minor details such as Joe Mazzulla’s timeout management, the Celtics’ ability to limit the cost of turnovers or even Jaylen Brown’s failure to show up in clutch moments, one thing is for sure: Boston has tiptoed the line of concern.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls (22-16), who most likely won’t give anyone problems in the Eastern Conference, are reportedly set to part ways with guard Alex Caruso, according to Alex Quinn of CBS Sports. Caruso, 28, while not flashy in the box score, has proven to be among the feistiest and most efficient defenders in the league with a 109.9 defensive rating through 42 games played thus far. And you can never have too much defensive depth, right? FiveThirtyEight’s Defensive RAPTOR rated Caruso (+5.6) as the NBA’s best defensive player among all positions.

Caruso has also averaged just 4.4 field goal attempts but has shot a high efficiency. He’s hit 38.7% of his shots from beyond the arc, just second to teammate Patrick Williams (41%) for the team lead.

In Boston, 6-foot-1 backup guard Payton Pritchard has struggled just to remain on the floor. The Oregon product has rummaged for minutes off the bench, and unlike Caruso, is vastly undersized and inefficient on the defensive end. Pritchard has notched a 114.6 defensive rating through 34 games to go along with a career-low 12.7 minutes per contest.

Offensively, Pritchard’s taken a dip. When drafted back in 2020, Pritchard appeared to have the outside shooting potential necessary to fill a valuable void in Boston’s depth. Yet, that hasn’t been the case in year three. He’s shot just 33.3% — a career-worst — from 3-point range on 2.8 attempts.

Plus, with some teams around the league reportedly having already expressed interest in Pritchard, the argument for keeping him in Boston has further diminished.

Therefore, the question presents itself: Should Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens make the call for Caruso?

Well, no.

While Caruso serves as a depth boost for nearly every NBA Finals-contending squad, the Celtics would be better suited for an outside shooter in the coming days ahead of the deadline. They’re already guard-heavy as is. Boston has Marcus Smart as the go-to guy along with a reserve leader in Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White serving as the utility man. And each of the three, while capable of knocking down outside shots, don’t have games that center around shooting the three.

Not to mention Chicago’s reported asking price of two first-round picks, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, is laughable.

The Celtics experimented with forward Sam Hauser in that role early on, and it worked for about a month. Hauser has since fizzled out as an effective reserve unit shooter. In the month of January (12 games), he’s shot just 31.4% from the outside — a slight improvement from his 28.3% showing in December, but still a massive drop-off from November (46.2%).

With offseason signing Danilo Gallinari possibly a no-show for the entirety of the season, the Celtics need someone to fill the very role that Gallinari was set to address — a player who can sink shots from 3-point range at an efficient rate.

With 13 days — as of Friday — until the deadline is reached, the clock is ticking for Stevens to either add or weather whatever storm may approach the Celtics en route to their push toward an NBA Finals return.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images
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