The Los Angeles Lakers were blown out by the up-and-coming Chicago Bulls on Monday night, but the story coming into the game was the return of Alex Caruso.
The Lakers’ decision to let Caruso walk in free agency was puzzling given how much he meant to the team and how good of a player he developed into, and there has been a lot of reporting on the gap in negotiations during free agency. Los Angeles apparently were cognizant of their salary cap situation and tried to convince Caruso to take less and the guard confirmed the team did not come close to matching Chicago’s offer.
Although the Lakers opted to let Caruso go, it did not mean they thought any less of him as they prepared a touching video tribute that they played during the first timeout on Monday night:
ACFresh, the Carushow, NBA Champion.
Welcome back, Alex. pic.twitter.com/deoWfO4i2M
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 16, 2021
Caruso was touched by the gesture and expressed his gratitude for the franchise and fans, via his Twitter account:
Lot of emotions stepping back under the lights of purple and gold tonight.. always grateful, forever connected ????????♾
— Alex Caruso (@ACFresh21) November 16, 2021
In true Caruso fashion, he made a clear impact on the game’s result without filling up the box score. Caruso did not score on his only field goal attempt but did rack up six rebounds, five assists, and a steal while providing his normal blend of defensive playmaking and hustle.
Watching Caruso play and succeed for the Bulls has been bittersweet and the Lakers’ decision to let him go looks like it might have been a massive mistake. Perimeter defense has been one of the major weaknesses of L.A.’s roster and Caruso is the exact type of player they could use.
Seeing Caruso go drew the ire of Lakers fans considering the role he had on the 2020 championship team, but also because he was one of the few homegrown talents that panned out for Los Angeles. The 27-year-old endeared himself to the Purple and Gold faithful and he will always be remembered for his time with the storied franchise.
Anthony Davis said it would be fun to play against Alex Caruso
Anthony Davis also seems to have a little extra pep in his step when he gets to play against his hometown Bulls, but he also sounded excited to face off against Caruso for the first time since he joined Chicago.
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