Bulls Guard Speaks out on Chicago Move, Lakers’ Lowball Offer

Alex Caruso Bulls

Getty Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso attempts to secure a loose ball.

We’re only 10 games into his run with the team, but it’s hard not to label Alex Caruso as something of a revelation for the Chicago Bulls. So far, the fifth-year guard is averaging 7.8 PPG and logging career highs assists (3.9 per game), steals (2.3 — third-best in the NBA) and minutes (27.9) for Chicago.

Going beyond his raw statistics, though, Caruso has been the garbage man that every good team needs. While Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan grab the headlines with their big-time scoring, Caruso is the one locking people down, diving on the floor for loose balls and generally making life miserable on opponents.

Along the way, he has become a fast favorite of the Windy City faithful.

Caruso’s early success with the Bulls begs the question — how did the LA Lakers let him get away? Even league executives are confused by what went down, and Lakers GM Rob Pelinka is looking worse by the day for allowing it all to happen; his team is currently languishing defensively and severely lacking backcourt depth.

On the November 10 episode of JJ Redick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast, Caruso spoke out on what transpired during his free agency, and his account doesn’t make the Lake Show look any better.


The Lakers Lowballed Caruso


Alex Caruso On What Exactly Happened In Free Agency That Led Him To Leave The Lakers For The BullsAlex Caruso joins JJ Redick and Tommy Alter this week on The Old Man and The Three. Tonight's preview clip is about Alex's free agency journey and what ultimately led him to choose to leave The Los Angeles Lakers to play for The Chicago Bulls. The full episode drops tomorrow! Subscribe to The Old Man…2021-11-10T01:56:25Z

As Caruso tells it, his free agency didn’t exactly get off to a rip-roaring start over the summer. While the league’s top stars know their market before the fireworks even begin, the Texas A&M product was forced to play the waiting game.

“I really didn’t hear much from any team, including the Lakers, leading up to 6 p.m. central, when I was at my parents’ house. And then they called, and the Lakers made their offer,” Caruso told Redick. “It wasn’t an offer I was going to accept because I was going to be able to get considerably more money from another team.”

He further noted that after having struggled to even find a spot in the league, he wasn’t just going to accept any offer now that he finally had some leverage.

Although Caruso didn’t exactly verbalize what it was that Pelinka and Co. had offered him to remain in Los Angeles, Redick still managed to get some idea about the financials out of him. The retired sharpshooter tossed out a guess of $15 million over two years and asked Caruso to blink once if the number was under the actual amount or twice if it was over.

Caruso emphatically blinked once, then said, “That was once, by the way.”

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The Bulls Understood What Caruso Brought to the Table

Once the Bulls made the move to bring in former No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball, Caruso had thought Chicago was off the table as a potential landing spot financially. However, he still took the Bulls’ call and was impressed by what he heard.

“I got on the phone with [Bulls GM Arturas Karnisovas] and with [head coach] Billy [Donovan], and the way they were just talking about how they wanted to play and how they saw me as a player, I thought they hit the nail on the head,” Caruso said.

It was obvious to him that the Bulls understood his skill set. More than that, though, they made it clear that what he brought to the table could be a big part of their winning mix.

“I thought everything they said, I was like ‘I think that’s accurate, I think that’s what I bring to the table, I think that’s how I can help the team win, I think that’s the direction this team wants to go,’” he said. “I thought there was a need for the stuff that I had.”

Caruso still felt some level of loyalty to the Lakers, though, with whom he had won an NBA championship in 2020. So, he took the Bulls’ offer to Pelinka and asked if he could match it, which he did not. Caruso even gave the Lakers an opportunity to sign him for slightly less than what had been offered and was still rebuffed.

He went on to sign with the Bulls for four years and just under $37 million.

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