If the Lakers have lacked an edge in the early part of the 2023-24 NBA season, there is one way the team probably could fix it: Trade for a former Laker. It’s only November and the Lakers rumor mill is not in full swing but still, one executive mentioned L.A. as a possible suitor for Bulls guard Alex Caruso, who helped the team to the 2020 NBA championship won in the Orlando bubble.
Alex Caruso was a key member of that team’s bench, but left the Lakers for the Bulls on a four-year, $37 million contract in 2021. He’s not a big numbers guy—Caruso averaged 5.9 points in 184 games during his time with the Lakers—but his departure was something many in the organization pretty quickly realized was a bad idea.
“The rumor around the Lakers was they regretted letting him go almost immediately after it happened,” one Eastern Conference exec told Heavy Sports. “They knew that was a mistake. He’s not the same player now, but the Lakers are worried they don’t have enough of an edge. He could be someone who helps fix that.”
Bulls Have Overvalued Alex Caruso on Trade Market
Of course, any Lakers rumor is fine in a vacuum, but it will require a little cooperation from the other side to come to fruition. Last year, the Bulls were rumored to be seeking two first-round picks for Caruso, which was taken by some to mean they were not all that interested in trading him at all—no one was going to give up that much for a role player like Caruso.
This year, with Chicago struggling in the early going of the season and the team possibly in need of some retooling, the Bulls might have to get more realistic on Caruso’s value. They could demand a first-round pick, which would likely be too high a price for the Lakers. But there could be work-arounds on that.
“They wouldn’t give up a (first-round) pick but they could give up (Jalen) Hood-Schifino and another contract if they wait until December 15. Or Max Christie, he has some value,” the executive said. “They’re not giving up a pick but they have young guys they can put up there.”
The Bulls likely would not have interest in a deal based on Christie or Hood-Schifino without a pick that they can control themselves. But if the market on Caruso is generally disappointing, the Lakers could be in position to add him without dipping into the limited supply of future picks.
Could Be More Teams Involved in This Lakers Rumor
It would be a surprise, though, if the market on Caruso were, indeed, limited. He is a proven winner and a role player who can lead with hustle and defense, contributions far more valuable than the 6.0 points on 43.0% shooting he has put in for his career.
This all remains, of course, very much in the Lakers rumors phase. Chicago has not been talking Caruso trades yet, and nothing is likely to get rolling until December 15, when contracts signed this summer can be dealt.
A crowded market would, of course, make it difficult for the Lakers to bring Caruso back. But he figures to be a name on the Lakers rumor mill.
“Coveted is a good word for him. If you want to make a trade tomorrow they could trade Alex Caruso,” the executive told Heavy Sports. “Half the teams in the league would be there with an offer. There’s a lot of teams monitoring that situation and they’re looking at Caruso more than anyone on that roster. Just a matter of when the Bulls are ready to make changes and ready to let him go.”