2-Time All-Defensive selection listed as 'ambitious' trade target for Hawks

A rival defensive standout has been floated as a lofty trade target for the Atlanta Hawks this offseason.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages

The underlying aspect of trading one of the Atlanta Hawks’ stars is having to replace their production; either directly or with equal contributions in other areas. Whether it's Trae Young or Dejounte Murray, the Hawks could find it difficult to replace them 1-for-1.

That’s where finding a better complementary piece becomes even more important, and Bleacher Report’s Conor Hughes believes Chicago Bulls star Alex Caruso could be a fit.

Caruso just earned his second consecutive All-Defensive team honor this past season.

“It's unclear which of the two guards is likeliest to go. If it's Murray who winds up leaving via trade, Atlanta should focus on supporting Young with the best defensive running mate possible.
That sounds like Alex Caruso, an All-Defensive honoree in each of the last two seasons,” Hughes wrote on May 27.

“No guard who logged at least 25 games last season posted a higher Defensive Estimated Plus/Minus than Caruso, who rates as one of the rare backcourt players whose impact approaches that of the typically more valuable paint-protecting big man. His ability to disrupt at the point of attack, blow up screening actions and force opposing ball-handlers away from their spots can change the outcome of entire games.”

Caruso went beyond the non-box score stats last season, posting career-highs with 10.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game this past season. He also tied his career high with 1.7 steals per game and shot 40.8% from beyond the arc.

The former championship Los Angeles Lakers guard is going into the final year of a four-year, $36.9 million contract.

There could be several complications to a potential deal, though.

Bulls eager to re-sign Hawks’ ‘ambitious’ trade target

The first and most daunting obstacle could be the Bulls’ stance on Caruso, who has become a favorite of the Bulls organization and fan base. There is even talk of the Bulls exploring a contract extension with Caruso.

That could drive an already-high asking price even higher with the cost of a new deal either attached or needing to be baked in.

Even if the Bulls agreed, getting Caruso to Atlanta could still prove tricky.

The Hawks are also short on contracts to match Caruso’s $9.8 million salary in 2024-25 in a trade. They have Onyeka Onkongwu earning $14 million next season with Jalen Johnson right below him at $4.5 million.

The disparity in their salaries is only part of the problem, with both Johnson and Okongwu a part of the Hawks’ list of “untouchable” players at different points.

Chicago has more space. 

However, a new contract for pending free agent DeMar DeRozan could take up much of that while their ownership is as luxury-tax conscious as the Hawks’. Those factors combine to make Caruso an ambitious target.