One of the most unlikely stars to emerge in the NBA over recent years has been Alex Caruso. He doesn’t put up huge numbers but fans just love him. He was embraced by the Los Angeles Lakers fan base and they were hoping the team would sign him to a long-term deal this offseason. That won’t be the case.
The writing was on the wall once the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook but fans were still holding out hope that he’d be back. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Caruso has signed a four-year deal with the Chicago Bulls for $37 million.
That’s far more than the Lakers would’ve been able to pay him and nobody can fault him for taking more money. Caruso will be reuniting with former Los Angeles teammate Lonzo Ball, who also signed with the Bulls on Monday. With Ball and Caruso in Chicago, their backcourt is going to get a big boost, especially on defense. After a four-year playoff drought, the Bulls are building a solid team.
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Lakers Will Miss Caruso
Caruso became a fan favorite early on because he didn’t look like much of a player. In fact, one Lakers coach thought he was the UPS guy back when he was in Summer League. However, he quickly became a bigger fan favorite when people realized he could play.
He developed into a playmaker for the Lakers on offense and a very good defender. Caruso also had a great rapport with LeBron James. The team is going to miss his stout defense and selfless play. He was also one of the team’s better shooters last year as he hit 40.1% of his threes. The Lakers have plenty of time to make more moves in free agency but it’s going to be difficult to replace a homegrown piece like Caruso.
The guard had a chance to send a message to the Lakers fans after the news broke.
What Will Happen With Talen Horton-Tucker?
Caruso is off to Chicago so that means the Lakers only have one more priority free agency in Talen Horton-Tucker. Fortunately, Los Angeles has more leverage with him as he’s a restricted free agent. The Lakers will be able to match any offer that is thrown his way. The team can’t afford to lose both Caruso and Horton-Tucker this offseason as they are two of the only homegrown talents that they had last season.
Horton-Tucker is an exciting player who will certainly excite a number of teams. That said, he’s only 20-years-old and averaged nine points a game last season. Any team that signs him is banking on him developing further. It’s possible that a team with cap space goes crazy and gives him a big offer but that seems unlikely. The Lakers should turn their focuses on keeping the young guard. This offseason, the team has only gotten older with additions of Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington and Trevor Ariza. They need to keep some youth in the building. The Lakers better hope Horton-Tucker doesn’t get a big offer as Caruso did.