Caruso hoping to spread what he learned from Lakers

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Cleveland Cavaliers' Darius Garland (10) drives around a pick set by Lauri Markkanen as Chicago Bulls' Alex Caruso (6) defends during the second half of Tuesday's preseason game at the United Center.

    Cleveland Cavaliers' Darius Garland (10) drives around a pick set by Lauri Markkanen as Chicago Bulls' Alex Caruso (6) defends during the second half of Tuesday's preseason game at the United Center.

 
 
Updated 10/7/2021 8:11 PM

It didn't take long for Bulls new addition Alex Caruso to become a fan favorite at the United Center.

He got a very loud ovation the first time he checked into the preseason opener Tuesday, so actually it took no time at all.

 

"Yeah, that's just kind of my career at this point," Caruso said Thursday at the Advocate Center. "Everybody just kind of likes watching me play. Whether they're cheering for me out of sarcasm or actual fandom or whatever it is, it comes with it."

Bulls fans probably figure if a guy was a fan favorite playing with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on a championship Lakers team, then he's earned the extra cheers.

"I was a little surprised it was as loud when I first came in," he said. "I would like it to be a little more warranted with some success and winning and some other stuff. Hopefully we'll get to that point further down the road."

Of course, that history puts him in a unique spot as the only player on the Bulls' roster who has won a championship. It's been a wild ride for Caruso, who went undrafted when he was coming out of Texas A&M in 2016,

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Caruso bounced back and forth between the Staples Center and G-League during his first two years with the Lakers. That second year, James showed up. The third year, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram were sent to New Orleans for Anthony Davis and the Lakers won an NBA title in the bubble.

Caruso, 27, talked about the changes to his life that went along with the addition of James and Davis as teammates.

"Anytime LeBron is on your team, you're playing for a championship," Caruso said. "It's not a secret. If he's on your team, it's pretty much you go to the Finals and try to win a championship. If you don't win it, it's kind of a failure. That's just like the ridiculous status quo that he's put upon himself after so many years of success.

"Coming to work with older guys that have been around the league, that have won championships, even past LeBron -- Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, guys like that -- you could see there was just a different type of mantra to them. How they carried themselves, how they prepared and how they played. It was something I was really fortunate to be a part of."

So the next question is how can Caruso spread that championship knowledge to his new teammates. He took advantage of that Lakers success by signing a free-agent deal with the Bulls. He started the preseason by producing 10 points and 10 assists against the Cavaliers, and figures to play heavy minutes this season, likely coming off the bench.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Some of the younger guys, Coby (White) and Ayo (Dosunmu) have been real vocal about asking me, and even Pat (Williams), being open to hearing what I have to say," Caruso said. "They're asking me questions and wondering about little things within the game about why you do this, why you do that.

"And then just try to bring that mental focus and execution piece to the team that I've been practicing for the last couple years at a championship level. If you want to be a good team and win and play at the end of the season, you've got to execute and you're got to play hard. I think that's something I can bring to this team and hopefully it can rub off on the young guys."

Actually, he should rub off on the older guys, too. There's only one ring in the Bulls' locker room, and Caruso has it.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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