Warriors can still benefit from Alex Caruso trade despite missing out on All-Defensive guard

Golden State Warriors v Chicago Bulls
Golden State Warriors v Chicago Bulls / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The Golden State Warriors had strong interest in Alex Caruso at February's mid-season trade deadline, but any thought of reconvening with the Chicago Bulls went out the door on Thursday when the 30-year-old guard was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for former sixth overall pick Josh Giddey.

While the Warriors may have a greater need to secure a second genuine star this offseason, missing out on a high-level role player in Caruso could nevertheless cause some frustration. Yet despite that disappointment, perhaps they could still benefit from the trade in the coming weeks.

The Golden State Warriors should monitor Lonzo Ball if the former second overall pick is bought out by the Chicago Bulls

Bringing in a ball-handling, pass-first point guard in Giddey has only risen speculation on the future of Lonzo Ball, with the injury-plagued 26-year-old having not appeared in an NBA game since January 14, 2022.

Given the acquisition of Giddey adds to current guards Zach LaVine, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu, Ball could become a trade or buyout candidate according to The Athletic's Darnell Mayberry.

""It’s impossible to not view Giddey as insurance in case Ball doesn’t return. By bringing in Giddey, the Bulls also might have signaled they’re ready to move on from Ball. A trade or buyout could be likely.""

Darnell Mayberry

It's hard to see any team trading for Ball unless it's a team looking to get off significant long-term money, or who are rebuilding and can get additional draft assets for taking on the contract. The Warriors don't fit either of those moulds, meaning that trading for Ball would likely be an unmitigated disaster.

However, if the former second overall pick does get bought out, the Warriors should certainly hold interest as a team in need of a backup point guard should Chris Paul depart as expected. Given it's felt like forever since Ball was even on an NBA floor, it's easy to forget how impactful he was prior to the devastating knee injuries.

In his 35 games after signing with the Bulls in the 2021 offseason, Ball averaged 13 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.8 steals and shot 42.3% from three-point range. Chicago held a 22-13 win-loss record during that stint, and have frankly never been the same since.

After all the publicity that stemmed from his Dad's public profile early in his career, Ball had quietly developed into an incredibly versatile, productive player on both ends of the floor. Injuries have cruelled him now for over two years, but there's confidence that he'll be ready to return next season.

If he can get back to anywhere near his best, Ball's size, defense, playmaking and shooting would be a great potential fit not just as a backup point guard, but as someone who could play alongside Stephen Curry in the Golden State back court.

It must be acknowledged that the franchise, per CBA rules, wouldn't be eligible to acquire Ball in the buyout market unless they're under the $178.7 million first tax apron threshold. Golden State can get themselves in that position over the coming weeks, though it won't be known until the futures of Klay Thompson, Paul and Kevon Looney are finalized.

Regardless of whether Ball remains with the Bulls, gets to the Warriors, or heads anywhere else around the league, all NBA fans will be on the same page in hoping that he can make a successful return to the floor after such torrid injury luck.