Chicago Bulls Stars DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic and Coach Billy Donovan Seething Over Grayson Allen’s Light Suspension

ORLANDO, Fla. — As if the Chicago Bulls hadn’t suffered enough in recent weeks while watching their best season in a decade come apart, the weekend presented another vicious one-two punch that left them further bloodied and battered.

Already missing guards Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, and Javonte Green, the Bulls’ misery worsened when Alex Caruso was walloped mid-air by Milwaukee’s Grayson Allen on Friday night. Unfortunately for Caruso and the Bulls, the hit sent him to the floor on his right hand. Caruso, who had only recently returned from a month-long absence, incredibly stayed in the game. He defended Giannis Antetokounmpo for a stretch and buried a clutch late 3-pointers — with a broken wrist.

X-rays revealed a fracture in Caruso’s wrist, and he is expected to miss at least six weeks. That pain worsened when Allen — and his history of sketchy play — got just a one-game suspension for his hit.

The Chicago Bulls are irate over Allen’s soft, one-game suspension and Caruso’s injury

Milwaukee Bucks guard Grayson Allen commits a Flagrant-2 foul on Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso in the third quarter at Fiserv Forum on Jan. 21, 2022, in Milwaukee. | John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

All those injuries left the Bulls with just nine available players on Sunday in Orlando, and the results were still somewhat shocking. Even though DeMar DeRozan scored a season-best 41 points, the Bulls were hardly competitive in an unsightly 114-95 loss to the nine-win Magic. Having carried the Bulls all season, DeRozan should be headed for the NBA All-Star Game. However, Chicago’s backcourt was so busted without its regulars they mustered just 10 assists with 22 turnovers on Sunday in Orlando.

The Bulls are plenty mad about a second straight loss and a seventh defeat in the past nine games. But they were even more irate about the NBA suspending Allen just one game. Meanwhile, they could be without Caruso for up to two months.

“The play that Grayson Allen made has no place in basketball,” Bulls center Nikola Vucevic said. “He definitely did not go for the ball and definitely did not go to just hard-foul (Caruso). It was just a wild play. Obviously (Allen’s) known for that, he has a history of doing that in college and throughout his whole career, as well. So, it was a very dirty play, and it’s unfortunate because (Caruso) did get seriously hurt.”

Added an appalled DeRozan: “It’s frustrating — not just for the team, but for (Caruso). He’s just getting back, and now we’re losing a key player and somebody we need. It sucks, and it’s frustrating, but we’ve got to weather the storm somehow.”

Caruso, in his first season in Chicago, has already earned the respect of his new teammates. This season, he’s posted career highs in rebounds, assists and steals this season. The Bulls compensated Caruso well for his play, but it now will be without one of the best spark-plug players in all of the NBA.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan didn’t like Milwaukee’s reaction to Allen’s flagrant foul

As irked as Vucevic and DeRozan were, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan was more upset. He didn’t like what he heard from Milwaukee’s players and coaching staff about the incident. Of course, Donovan said, Milwaukee’s players showed their support for Allen and vouched for his work ethic and team-first mentality. 

Many of those same Bucks players dared to say Allen was guilty of nothing nefarious on the mid-air collision. That raised some pointed questions from Donovan.

“My question would be if the roles were reversed and it was Alex Caruso who took down Giannis (Antetokounmpo) or took down (Khris) Middleton or took down Jrue Holiday in the same way, from their comments, it sounds like they would be saying it’s OK and it wouldn’t be a malicious act,” Donovan said. “So, if it happened to those guys, would that actually be the same response, or would it be a different response?”

Donovan said he would never condone any payback hit on Allen — and he pointed out that he doesn’t think the Bulls have any players who would do such a thing when Chicago and Milwaukee play again on May 4. However, he’s aware that things tend to happen in these situations.

“I understand that there’s a player code of conduct,” Donovan said. “Whenever we play them again, I’m sure there will be emotions in the game. I don’t feel like the guys that we have here … they’re just trying to do whatever they can to have a successful season.”

Finally, the Bulls will get some relief with high-scoring guard Zach LaVine expected back 

Three weeks ago, the Chicago Bulls were riding a nine-game winning streak and sitting atop the Eastern conference at 26-10. Then, the unforgiving grind of the NBA season hit the Bulls right between the eyes.

Knee injuries to Zach LaVine, Derrick Jones Jr., and Loans Ball staggered the Bulls. Surgeries for Ball and Caruso mean the Bulls will be without two of their top playmakers for a couple of months, and it could send Chicago into the trade market for a point guard.

Chicago should get some much-needed relief on Monday with the potential returns of LaVine and Javonte Green. Hit hard by a couple of emotional and physical haymakers, the Bulls need something to save a season knocked off course.

“It sucks with the bad luck that we’ve been hit with, losing (Caruso) and not having our key guys … it’s been rough,” DeRozan said late Sunday night in Orlando. “But we’ve still got to go and compete. Hopefully, we’re getting some of the calvary back tomorrow, and that will definitely help us.”

All quotes in the article were obtained firsthand.

Statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com.

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