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Lakers Get Back LeBron James’ Best Wingman in Proposed Trade

Getty LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket over (L-R) Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball #2 and Javonte Green #24 of the Chicago Bulls.

The best upgrade the Los Angeles Lakers could get to maximize the remaining championship window of LeBron James may not be the fanciest player available in the trade market.

Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz proposed a trade that could reunite James with the best teammate he’s ever had in his career: Alex Caruso.

The proposed trade:

Lakers Receive: G Alex Caruso, F Torrey Craig

Bulls Receive: PG Gabe Vincent, SG Jalen Hood-Schifino, 2024 second-round pick

Caruso, not DeMar DeRozan nor Zach LaVine, represents the best trade the Lakers could swing in-season.

On top of Caruso immediately boosting the Lakers’ 29th-ranked 33.7% efficiency from deep with his 47.7% shooting clip this season, he’s already proven himself to be the perfect glue guy next to James.

LeBron James’ Best Teammate

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 1.4 steals and nearly one block per game on top of 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists this season. Plus, a lot more intangibles that do not reflect on the box score.

For the Bulls, a healthy Gabe Vincent could fill up Lonzo Ball’s shoes. Vincent, the Lakers’ top free-agent acquisition in the offseason, has only appeared in four games this season due to a left knee effusion. But according to Lakers coach Darvin Ham, per The Athletic’s Jovan Buha, Vincent is progressing well in his recovery.

The 29-year-old Vincent was a key cog of the Miami Heat that went to the NBA Finals last season.

In the 20-year-old Jalen Hood-Schifino, the Bulls get a flier on a promising young prospect that fits their rebuild rather than the Lakers’ timeline with James. Torrey Craig will just be more than a throw-in as he is a plug-and-play wing who can fit any Lakers lineup.

Lakers’ Remorse

The Lakers 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 would later reveal to JJ Redick in “The Old Man & The Three” podcast 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.

Alex Caruso’s Price Tag

It could take more than Swartz’s proposed package for the Lakers to reunite Caruso with James.

According to Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer, the Bulls told several inquiring teams they could get upward of two first-rounders for Caruso. An anonymous NBA executive backed that up in a Hoopshype report.

“If they can get two first-round picks for Alex Caruso, I’d do it,” the exec told Hoopshype’s Michael Scotto.

The Lakers have only their 2030 first-round pick at their disposal for an in-season trade. Will the Bulls be amenable to that pick and Hood-Schifino (the 17th overall selection of the last draft)? And are the Lakers willing to give up their remaining draft capital for a non-All-Star?


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The LA Lakers could make the most of LeBron's championship window: reunite him with former teammate Alex Caruso. Find out how!