Bulls’ Alex Caruso cleared for full practice; Patrick Williams gets OK for limited work
Caruso has been cleared to go through full-contact practices starting Friday, while Williams can have limited contact practice.
Very few players on coach Billy Donovan’s roster are as low-maintenance as Alex Caruso.
So with Caruso’s return now appearing to be coming in days rather than weeks, don’t expect the defensive-minded guard to make any waves as he acclimates himself back into the rotation.
Plug-and-play instantly will become defend-and-disrupt.
“For someone like [Caruso], he’s figured out like his identity as an NBA player is what he is,’’ Donovan said Wednesday. “He’s kind of a hard-nosed, winning-play player, whether it’s taking a charge, getting on the floor for a loose basketball, getting over a screen, block-out, taking on a different matchup . . . he’s probably learned, certainly playing with the Lakers and some of the places he’s been, that’s kind of been his niche. He’s kind of carved that niche out for himself, and that’s not to say that Alex isn’t a good offensive player and can’t make a shot or put the ball on the floor, get to the rim, he can do those things. But I feel like really good players look at the team and have this understanding how they have to inject themselves to make the team even better.
“I think for Alex sitting out, watching us play, and being on the bench, I think he knows that the things he does do well he can bring to the table.’’
Donovan announced earlier in the day that Caruso (wrist surgery) was cleared to practice with the team with no restrictions when the team reconvenes Friday at the Advocate Center. Second-year forward Patrick Williams (wrist surgery) was cleared for limited contact.
Caruso, who had surgery on Jan. 24 after suffering the injury thanks to a Grayson Allen flagrant-2 foul, was the heart and soul of a Bulls defense that was in the top five when he played. It has slipped to near the bottom without him.
The good news on Caruso is that as long as he gets through individual workouts before Friday, as well as the practices, it won’t be a long wait to see him in games. He has been conditioning throughout the rehab process and has been with the team on most road trips so he is aware of any new wrinkles. Plus it helps that he isn’t being counted on to come in and test that wrist by being a scorer.
The Bulls were scheduled to practice Friday, host the Cavaliers on Saturday, possibly practice before flying to Sacramento on Sunday. They also have practices planned Tuesday and Thursday on the road trip.
Caruso might need only a few hard practices and a shootaround to be ready, so Monday or Wednesday of next week would not be far-fetched landing spots for his return.
“The biggest issue for him is how much strength he can continually get back into his wrist because he hasn’t been able to do that,’’ Donovan said.
Williams is at limited contact for now but that could change to full contact by Friday, Donovan said.
“He’s able to do stuff on a limited basis like one-on-one, two-on-two with a limited amount of players,’’ Donovan said. “I think as he continued to go through that until we get back to practice again, the medical guys will make a decision on whether or not he can actually get back in there and go five-on-five, but he’s certainly progressing really well.’’
Lonzo Ball is also on the mend (knee surgery), and without question, he’s behind the other two as far as a return.
“Lonzo has to get built up to sprinting, cutting, lateral movement,’’ Donovan said. “That’s where he has to improve.’’