LeBron James ‘Best Wingman’ out of Lakers’ Reach: Report

LeBron James, Lakers

Getty LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts against the New York Knicks during their game at Madison Square Garden.

ALeBron JamesAlex Caruso reunion for the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline is a long shot.

According to Hoopshype’s Michael Scotto, the Chicago Bulls are seeking a significant return in any potential Caruso deal.

“Chicago continues to have a high asking price on Alex Caruso of the equivalent of two first-round picks to consider moving the All-Defensive guard. Caruso is signed for $9.89 million next season, which is considered a great value across the league, given his production,” Scotto reported on February 5.

The Lakers only have one first-round pick (2029 or 2030) at their disposal this trade deadline. If they stand pat, they can have access to three first-rounders in June.

The Lakers consider Caruso as “the one that got away.”

They quickly regretted their decision to let Caruso walk away in the summer of 2021.

“The rumor around the Lakers was they regretted letting him go almost immediately after it happened,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney in November. “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.”

Caruso revealed to JJ Redick in “The Old Man & The Three” podcast in 2021 that the Lakers lowballed him. He eventually signed a $37 million, four-year deal with the Bulls, but not after going back to the Lakers and see if they would match. The Lakers did not.

LeBron James’ Best Wingman

Over the last two seasons they played together, James and Caruso had the highest net rating among any two-man lineup in the team. During their championship run in the 2019-20 season, they had a plus-18.6 net rating. The following season, Caruso’s final year with the Lakers, they registered a plus-17.1 net rating.

James even nicknamed Caruso G.O.A.T. during his Lakers days.

“Every time he’s in the game, he’s a plus guy,” James said of Caruso in a New York Times interview in 2020. “He can do so much. He can defend at a high level. He’s very smart. He’s very tough. To have him on this ball club is a luxury.”

Named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team last season, Caruso is back at it again with his defensive flair, averaging 1.3 steals and a career-high 1.1 blocks per game. He is also producing a career-best 10.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists this season. Plus, a lot more intangibles that do not reflect on the box score.

Alex Caruso Always Thought About What Could Have Been

If the Lakers regret their decision to let him walk in the summer of 2021, Caruso also thinks about what could have been had they re-signed him.

“Yeah, definitely,” Caruso told FOX Sports after the Bulls’ 141-132 loss to his former team on January 25 at his old stomping ground. “Just because of how well I played with them when I was here. I know how I supported them. And I’ve gotten better. I was expecting myself to get better. It’s actually what had to move me on. I kept getting better and eventually, I was at a point where I couldn’t stay here.

“I definitely have always thought about it because those guys [James and Anthony Davis] are my brothers. We’ve been through a lot together. Always good seeing them. Every now and then you think about what could’ve been.”