The Chicago Bulls struck fast in free agency by coming to terms with Lonzo Ball right out of the gate. That wasn’t the only big move the Bulls made on the first day of free agency, though, as they also nabbed Alex Caruso away from the Los Angeles Lakers.

To many, it was surprising to see Caruso leave Los Angeles. It was reported afterward that the guard actually went back to the Lakers to give them a chance to counter Chicago’s offer of four years and nearly $37 million, but they declined to do so.

Silver Screen and Roll’s Anthony Irwin joined Blue Wire’s Cash Considerations podcast to talk about the Caruso move, and he was as shocked as anybody that the Lakers let such an important part of their championship team walk in order to save some luxury tax payments. While Caruso didn’t play a ton of minutes, he played a lot of the most important ones and was a key defensive presence.

It’s that defensive prowess that’s going to help the Bulls level up in 2021-22. Chicago has added a good amount of offensive talent around Zach LaVine in the last year, but Caruso’s perimeter defense is going to be much-needed in order to make a playoff run. Irwin spoke glowingly about Caruso’s defensive impact on the Lakers:

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“I honestly contend that if he played more minutes he would have been in the conversation for best defensive point guards in the NBA. The difference between the Lakers’ defense with him on and off the court, both statistically and in terms of what you’re watching on the court, was just so clear. He was such a key part of that defense.”

The Bulls were actually 12th in defensive rating last season, but a lot of analysts are concerned about that end of the floor this upcoming season. But with Caruso there, he should play a big role in at least keeping that unit respectable, and perhaps even better than expected. If Chicago pairs even a competent defense with a high-level offense, a playoff berth should be in play.

Listen to the whole Cash Considerations episode below:

Cash Considerations: A Chicago Bulls Podcast is part of the Blue Wire sports podcasting network. The pod can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts.