The ‘‘dawg’’ has been put in a cage for the next week.
That’s what DeMar DeRozan called teammate Alex Caruso last week, referring to his ferocious defensive mentality.
But as the victory Saturday against the Nets showed, that “dawg’’ needs some rest.
Caruso had been trying to play through a right-hamstring injury that had crept into his calf but lasted only eight minutes against Brooklyn.
Coach Billy Donovan said Caruso had been going through treatment and had an MRI exam. The plan was to shut him down for a week, then re-evaluate where he’s at.
“It’s not significant,’’ Donovan said. “With something like that, the bigger concern is if we bring him back too early, and it goes from something that was minor to something more significant, and now he’s gonna be missing more time. So I think the medical staff feels pretty confident that, ‘OK, after a week here, let’s re-evaluate where he’s at and make some decisions going forward.’
“That’s not to sit there and say he’ll be back in a week. He could be. But he’ll be evaluated. And we’ll see how he responds to treatment, and he’ll be able to do things, and they’ll push him a little bit, and if he starts to feel it, they’ll pull back.’’
The timing couldn’t be worse, considering the Bulls already were short-handed with Coby White, Javonte Green and DeRozan in the health and safety protocols. If Caruso is out a full week, he obviously will have missed the game against the Nuggets, then the road trip to Cleveland and Miami.
The Bulls host the Pistons next Tuesday and will have more clarity on Caruso by then.
“He warmed up [before the Nets game], but I just don’t think he felt right, and I don’t think it got to a place where all of a sudden he reaggravated or did something more to it,’’ Donovan said. “I think he’s smart enough as a player and with the medical staff to, like, ‘OK he’s not moving great, he’s not feeling great. We don’t need to push this right now and create something that’s gonna be a little bit longer for the team.’
“I think how it gets addressed and handled now is the most important thing.’’
Caruso was leading the team in steals and deflections, as well as playing 28.6 minutes per game, averaging 8.5 points and 4.1 assists.
Staying the course
Donovan said during the weekend that he expected the NBA to ramp up testing leaguewide in the midst of the holiday season and was asked if he could see another pause or shutdown coming.
“I have not heard anything along those lines,’’ Donovan said. “I think everybody, and I’ve said this before about our guys, has done a good job following and doing what we’re asked to do by the league and from the medical side. And, you know, it’s just this time of year, there certainly has been a spike in this, but I have not heard anything as it relates to them going into a situation of shutting down the league for a period of time.’’
The Bulls have had four players in the health and safety protocols since the regular season started.