The Los Angeles Lakers are in a precarious position this NBA free agency period as they have limited resources to work with to fill out their roster.
Armed with the taxpayer’s mid-level exception and veteran minimum contracts, the Lakers will likely be competing with the other contenders for older players who can come in and immediately help. Los Angeles got off to a good start by reportedly agreeing to deals with Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, and Dwight Howard but will have more work to improve a team that underwhelmed during the 2020-21 season.
Free-agent Alex Caruso is one key name that Los Angeles needed to decide on as he was a vital part of their bench unit and defense. However, although the Lakers had his Bird Rights and could offer more money than other suitors, it appears he will instead be joining the Chicago Bulls, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Free agent guard Alex Caruso has agreed to a four-year, $37M deal with the Chicago Bulls, his agent Greg Lawrence of @Wasserman tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 3, 2021
This is a massive loss for the Lakers, who valued Caruso’s ability to play both on and off the ball as well as defend the opposing team’s best guard. Caruso was expected to meet with several teams in free agency, but apparently, the offer from the Bulls was too good, and he ended up signing a deal on the first day of free agency.
Suffice to say; this is one of the more questionable decisions the Purple and Gold have made in recent memory, as the only downside to re-signing Caruso is the luxury tax. Governor Jeanie Buss previously acknowledged that the team was willing to pay for this roster, but this recent move runs counter to that.
With Caruso off to Chicago, Los Angeles now needs to turn its attention to someone who can come in and provide capable perimeter defense. Who that player remains to be seen, but losing Caruso is definitely not what fans wanted to see happen.
Alex Caruso reunites with Lonzo Ball
Caruso joins a Bulls squad that struck gold when they managed to agree on terms of a sign-and-trade to bring in former Laker Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans. Caruso and Ball spent time together in Los Angeles during their rookie seasons and reunited to form a formidable defensive backcourt.