Alex Caruso has more than outperformed the two-year, $5.5 million contract he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this past offseason. A strong close to the 2018-19 season gave a glimpse at what Caruso could do with extended minutes and he has not disappointed.
Under head coach Frank Vogel, Caruso became an integral part of the bench unit, often providing jolts of energy whenever the Lakers needed it. However, he will likely be asked to do even more after Avery Bradley notified the team he would not be joining them in the season’s restart.
Like others throughout the organization, Caruso supported Bradley opting out because of health concerns with his son. “Obviously understand Avery’s decision. We’re brothers in arms throughout the whole season. If I had the same scenario I would probably make the same decision,” he said.
How exactly the Lakers will fill the void is unclear. JR Smith was signed for the remainder of the season, but he isn’t expected to start. “It might not be one person to fill his role but this team has done a great job all year when guys have been out,” Caruso said.
“Stepping up and filling a role or need, whether it be LeBron missing a game or a guard being out for a couple games. I’m not sure if I’m going to be the sole provider for everything that Avery did. That’s a lot to ask just because of how good he is at what he does, but if nothing I’m going to be ready to fill that gap.”
Most anticipate Caruso’s role and importance expanding, thought he wasn’t quite as certain. “I don’t know if it changes too much of what I do. Just because the role that Avery played was a supplement ball-handler, took open threes when he was spotting up and played really good defense,” he explained.
“I think those are things I can step into and do well. There’s obviously some mid-range pullups that he’s really good at and some floaters, we had a couple actions for him that I don’t think I can step right into and be ready to do. But I think there’s different areas by committee we’ll be able to fill and I think there’s some areas I can do a good job of.”
Bradley made his mark on the defensive end, but was also a solid option on offense, particularly in the midrange. While Caruso isn’t the same scorer, his ability to defend opposing guards should still be useful come playoff time.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!