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Alex Caruso on the new CBA and making an All-Defense Team

Will Gottlieb Avatar
April 3, 2023

Over the weekend, the NBA and the NBA Players Association came to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that has implications ranging from a raise in the Salary Cap and Luxury Tax and putting guardrails on how much teams can spend to the approval of the mid-season tournament and minimum game requirements for NBA awards.

Alex Caruso took some time to share his thoughts on the new CBA.

“The NBPA, I was on a couple of the CBA update calls because I’m a player rep,” Caruso said after Monday’s practice. “They’re just always trying to take care of us. Trying to make sure we’re getting the most out of the BRI and making sure we’re represented well in terms of how we represent the league and the teams even outside of ourselves. They are warriors. They work on that stuff. I just have to play basketball and listen in on the meeting, so we’re thankful for them for sure.”

“Every time we do a new CBA, it seems like we get a little more representation for what the players bring to the game and to the league, and I think this is another step.”

NBA Awards game minimum

Load management has become a fixture in the NBA, for better or worse. It effects the quality of the game insofar as the best players on both teams sharing the court together has decreased in volume. That has implications on TV Ratings and ticket sales — fans are less likely to watch games if star players aren’t on the court.

As part of the new CBA, to be eligible to qualify for MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and any of the All-NBA or All-Defense teams, players will now need to play at least 65 games.

“I think the 65 game minimum is a good thing,” Caruso said. “I don’t think I was on either side of that whether it was mandatory or not. But I think it’s good to reward the guys that have played the games. Part of that is injuries too, just dealing with the season. But if you play 65, I think that’s close to 75 percent. That’s a good thing.

Of course, these rules won’t come into effect until next season, but that guideline would impact Caruso specifically, who is in line to make his first All-Defense team. He currently sits at 64 games played, and despite having to manage a nagging foot injury, he should be able to eclipse that mark before the end of the season.

Not that getting such an award is necessarily on Caruso’s mind.

“I don’t know if it matters, just because in my head I know I’m one of the best defenders in the league, I’m guarding the best players night in night out,” Caruso said of getting an All-Defense Team. “I feel like I have, for the majority, the respect from the guys I play against, and they know that, whether they want to admit it or not, it’s a tough assignment and I’m going to make them work every time they play against me.”

It’s the diplomatic thing to say, but Caruso is, by the eye test and almost every statistic publicly available, one of, if not the best defensive player in the league.

“If I get the award, that’s cool, that’s always fun to put up in your house and to claim that,” Caruso said. “But for me, it’s always just been about the process of trying to win games. And that’s how I effect the game the best. And that’s just what’s easy for me to stamp on the game.”

Mid-Season Tournament

For the last few seasons, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been pushing for a mid-season tournament that will hopefully improve the quality and competitiveness of regular season games.

TL;DR, during a certain portion of the regular season, games will count towards both regular season record and mid-season tournament record. Eventually, there will be a Final Four and Championship game held in Las Vegas.

There have been questions about how much interest players and teams will have in these games, given the aforementioned load management topic. But a monetary incentive could help.

“The monetary prize will help guys get going,” Caruso said. “I’m sure it will be different from organization to organization. I’m sure a team that’s young or playing around .500 may really want to win that just to get guys used to playing in games that are meaningful.”

He’s not blind to the fact that older, more established teams could still coast — or at least, not place as much value on the tournament as the NBA Playoffs. But that could still mean opportunity to get young players or young teams high leverage minutes earlier in their career.

“You might see some teams like a Denver or Milwaukee this year, may not play their guys every single game,” he continue. “Which is kind of what, if you follow European soccer at all, I follow the Premier League a lot, a lot of times when they play the FA Cup or the Domestic Cup, they may rest a Kevin De Bruyne, like DeMar DeRozan on game and start Dalen Terry just to get him minutes.”

At the end of the day, there’s always room for improvement, but this feels like a starting point that both sides are happy with.

“I’m sure it will get better and better and we’ll probably amend some rules throughout the years to make sure it’s competitive and putting their best foot forward,” he said.

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