Lakers wanted to bring back Alex Caruso but price was too high

The Los Angeles Lakers not re-signing Alex Caruso had some controversy among the NBA world.

Caruso had worked up from being undrafted to a key piece in closing lineups alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis because of his defensive prowess against guards and spot-up shooting ability.

The 27-year-old guard entered the market as an unrestricted free agent, and among the 10-plus free agents L.A. had to make a decision on, retaining Caruso was regarded as a priority.

However, within the early stages of free agency, Caruso signed a four-year deal worth $37 million with the Chicago Bulls.

Shortly after the signing was reported, another report from Sam Amick of The Athletic said the Lakers denied Caruso and his camp a counter offer.

In a new report, Amick clarified more details of the negotiation between the two sides:

“In the wake of my report about the Lakers not countering Alex Caruso’s four-year, $37 million offer from Chicago in free agency, a source with knowledge of the negotiations strongly refuted the inference that he wasn’t wanted back. That doesn’t change the fact that Caruso’s side claimed to be confused about the communication element of the negotiation, but it seems the Lakers’ calculus was similar to the one Milwaukee faced with P.J. Tucker.

In both situations, there was a price point that both franchises were willing to go to based on the exorbitant luxury-tax hit that would come their way. And in the end, after initial interest, they simply decided to part ways when the price went too high (in Tucker’s case, he headed to Miami on a two-year, $15 million deal).”

The Lakers were strapped for cash during free agency, with only the $5.9 million taxpayer MLE to offer, but it was a head-scratcher for many to let someone of Caruso’s caliber walk at a fair price for his production.

Instead, the Lakers re-signed Talen Horton-Tucker on a three-year deal while inking Kendrick Nunn for the MLE and Malik Monk for the veteran minimum to beef up the offensive prowess of their guards, a different look from Caruso’s strengths,

In this instance, only time will tell if the Lakers made the right choice on letting Caruso leave and sacrificing his defensive expertise, which played a crucial role in L.A. having the No. 1 ranked defense last season.


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