Bulls guard Alex Caruso needs wrist surgery after incident Friday with Grayson Allen
The initial X-rays were negative after Allen all but tackled Caruso in midair during the Bulls’ loss to the Bucks on Friday, but further images Saturday showed that his right wrist was fractured, and Caruso is headed for surgery next week. He will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks after the procedure.
Like the Bulls needed another reason to become closer.
But it happened in the third quarter Friday against the Bucks in Milwaukee when bad boy Grayson Allen hooked the arm of airborne Bulls guard Alex Caruso and sent him spiraling to the court, where he landed on his right wrist. Allen was assessed a flagrant-2 foul and was ejected.
Afterward, Caruso said his wrist was sore, called the play ‘‘bull[bleep]’’ and said at no point did Allen come over to check on him. He also said X-rays showed all was well.
Things changed drastically Saturday, however, as further tests showed Caruso suffered a fractured wrist that will require surgery. He will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks, then a more definite timeline will be known as far as his return.
For a team that has seen its share of players sidelined, including guard Lonzo Ball heading for surgery on his left knee next week, the injury to Caruso might be the worst from a defensive standpoint. The Bulls have been a different team when he plays, holding opponents to an average of eight fewer points with him in the rotation.
That’s a big swing, and it shows just how important he is as a communicator and in his willingness to defend any opposing player.
It didn’t sit well with coach Billy Donovan on Friday, when he was still under the impression Caruso had escaped injury-free. The Bulls were off Saturday, but there’s a good chance Donovan will have much more to say as it all sinks in.
‘‘I just know the play looked really, really bad [for] a guy that’s got a history of doing that all the way back to college,’’ Donovan said Friday of Allen.
But beating the Bulls, knocking them out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference and sidelining Caruso apparently wasn’t enough for the Bucks.
The final tongue-out moment was provided on the Bucks’ Twitter account Saturday. The team sent out a GIF of Allen showing off a doughnut before taking a bite out of it. The text underneath it read: ‘‘Good Morning.’’
It was a promotion for Bucks’ game Saturday against the Kings, but it felt more like an added insult to the Bulls and their fan base. Then again, when the Bucks — at least publicly — said Allen did nothing wrong, trolling the Bulls just comes with the territory.
‘‘I think Grayson, nothing malicious, went to block the shot,’’ Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Friday. ‘‘I think it’s a close call.’’
On Saturday, his stance hadn’t changed very much.
‘‘I know Caruso is going to miss some time, and I feel for him,’’ Budenholzer said. ‘‘I don’t want that for any of our opponents, for anybody. But there was nothing that was done intentionally.’’
As far as the Bucks are concerned, Allen isn’t the same player he was when he was suspended for a game at Duke for tripping an opponent and lost his team captaincy. Never mind that he was ejected from a Summer League game in 2019 with the Grizzlies after picking up two flagrant fouls a few seconds apart, all but punching a Celtics player in the back of the head.
‘‘I don’t think Grayson’s a dirty player,’’ Bucks forward Khris Middleton said. ‘‘He’s been great with us all season long.’’
So how will — and should — the Bulls react? Just as they have in the face of adversity throughout the season. All the players have said this is one of the tightest groups they’ve played with, and the front office is concerned about making a trade because of how it might mess with the chemistry.
The Bulls will let this incident simmer. They’ll play the Bucks three more times, with the next coming March 4 at the United Center.
Until then, having a common enemy is a good thing.