Late on Tuesday night, rumors began to trickle in that Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso was arrested and charged with marijuana possession in Texas. Multiple outlets confirmed the rumors, including ESPN. According to Ramona Shelburne, Caruso was attempting to board a flight when TSA searched his bags and found a herb grinder that contained marijuana, leading to his arrest.
According to court records, Caruso, 27, was arrested by Texas A&M University Police on June 22, 2021, and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors.
In California, where Caruso has played professional basketball for the last four years, recreational marijuana use is legal. However, that is not the case in Texas, where possession is still against the law.
Over the years, LeBron James and Caruso have formed a strong relationship. The superstar responded to a video parodying him promising to rescue his teammate suggesting he’d use cash to bail Caruso out.
Attitudes towards marijuana are changing in the NBA, though it is still listed as a banned substance by the league. While Caruso should’ve been wise to the fact that he can’t bring the drug to Texas, it’s perfectly legal in California. It’ll be interesting to see if the NBA dishes out any punishment at the young guard.
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Will Arrest Affect Caruso’s Free Agency?
Caruso didn’t pick the best time to get arrested. He just finished up his contract with the Lakers and is set to test free agency. Caruso is due a big raise from the two-year, $5.5 million contract he signed in 2019, with the low estimate on his next deal starting at the mid-level exception, $10.1 million. According to The Athletic, Caruso could be line for a deal starting at as much as $13 million..
Thanks to his great defense and solid 3-point shooting, many teams will have an interest in his services. Caruso averaged 6.2 points in 21.0 minutes and shot 40.1% from the 3-point line this year, a career-high, though only on 2.4 attempts per game. It’s never good for a player to get arrested, but given his respectable numbers, Caruso won’t pay a heavy price in free agency.
This arrest doesn’t change his value in the NBA at all, especially not to the Lakers. As unlikely as it was when he came into the league, Caruso is set to get a solid payday this offseason. He’s a selfless player and will do the dirty work that other players won’t want to do. He’s the perfect guy to have on the bench for a championship team.
Cavaliers Could Be Interested in Caruso
Keeping Caruso should one of the Lakers’ top priorities this offseason. He plays extremely well with LeBron and has been a great fit in Los Angeles. However, the team will face competition this offseason. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the Cleveland Cavaliers could try to pry away the guard from the Lakers:
Any potential free agency list should start with Indiana’s T.J. McConnell and Los Angeles pest Alex Caruso. Both are Cavs targets. Both fit really well. Some prefer Caruso. He’s younger, bigger, stronger and can guard multiple spots. Others like McConnell more. Even though he doesn’t shoot many 3s, he’s more polished, capable of filling in as starter, puts pressure on the rim and was the league’s total steals leader.
The Cavaliers could likely offer a much better contract to Caruso but he’d be giving up his hopes of winning more championships. Outside of the LeBron years, the team has consistently been among the worst in the NBA. That can’t be too appealing to Caruso. That said, he hasn’t made much money in his career. He could try to secure a big payday while he can.