Guard Alex Caruso plans to return to the Chicago Bulls lineup Friday against the Detroit Pistons after missing three games because of a concussion and right shoulder injury.
Caruso suffered the pair of injuries Dec. 21 against the Atlanta Hawks after attempting to dive parallel to the court to snatch a steal out of midair. Instead he crashed directly into a Hawks player. Caruso described the moment as baffling in real time — one second he thought he had secured a steal, the next he was flat on the hardwood with the entire right side of his body aching.
After clearing concussion protocol Wednesday, Caruso participated in a contact scrimmage with several teammates Thursday. Although he still described slight discomfort when his shoulder is held in certain positions, Caruso voiced confidence in his readiness to play against the Pistons.
“I don’t think there’s anything limited,” Caruso said. “Maybe just a little bit of pain at the very end-range motions, the very extremes, but you don’t really play basketball at those, so it’s not too bad. I played yesterday live. We went 100%, full-speed, played pickup, so I feel pretty good about it.”
Caruso said he didn’t feel concussion protocol was necessary “based on stuff that I’ve had in the past” despite the fact he experienced “mild” symptoms. His clearance was delayed several days while he was unable to participate in contact drills — the final requirement of the clearance process — because of the shoulder injury.
Injuries will always be a concern for Caruso, who missed half of last season with a fractured right wrist, back spasms and sprains to his ankle and foot. He spent the offseason focused on strength training designed to make his body more durable. So far, that seems to have paid off — after his week-long absence, Caruso has missed only four of 34 games this season.