Perfect Cavaliers trade target emerges due to Bulls’ losing

DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Alex Caruso and Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls. Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images /

What this means for the Cavaliers

How do the Cavaliers come in? They aren’t going to be making an offer for DeRozan or LaVine, players too duplicative with the All-Star backcourt already in place and too expensive to be acquired without a massive roster overhaul.

Yet there are a couple of support players on the Bulls that the Cavaliers should absolutely be interested in. Perhaps Torrey Craig could fill out their depth at forward, or Jevon Carter could slot into the backcourt. The most tantalizing prospect, however, would be adding Alex Caruso.

The 29-year-old, 6’4″ point guard broke out as a role player alongside LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers, then signed a free agent contract with the Bulls in the summer of 2021. He has been a low-usage, high-impact player for the Bulls over the past 2+ seasons, establishing himself as one of the best defensive guards in the league and serving as the rare guard who can elevate his team’s defense despite questionable help behind him.

Caruso led the league in steal rate last season at 3.0 percent, swiping 2.2 bags per 36 minutes. He also served as a solid weakside rim protector, ranking second in the league among all players 6’4″ or shorter in block percentage (minimum 200 minutes played) at 2.8 percent. He is one of the league’s best full-court on-ball defenders, he stays glued to his man when moving off-ball, and his help defense at the nail is right there with Jrue Holiday as the best in the league.

The Cavaliers have a player in Isaac Okoro who can duplicate much of what Caruso brings, but he is both heading for free agency and has been an offensive liability due to his shooting concerns. Caruso isn’t exactly a better shooter, but he finds a way to make an impact on offense even without shooting. And just because Okoro can replicate some of what Caruso brings doesn’t mean he’s the same level of defender, and the step or two higher that Caruso is in each area over Okoro can be game-changing.

Caruso also brings some ball-handling ability that Okoro doesn’t, allowing the Cavs to build in some redundancy at point guard to shore up their limited depth, an issue that has already plagued them this season. He can serve as the backup point guard to Darius Garland, playing minutes alongside Donovan Mitchell and taking on the most difficult backcourt assignments.