Rob Pelinka Believes There’s A ‘Level Of Pride’ In Keeping Players Lakers Developed Around Like Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker
Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers built a team with depth at all positions, but will now have some difficult decisions to make in free agency this offseason. In the backcourt particularly, Rob Pelinka has three important rotation pieces who will be free agents in Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker.

Much has been made of Schroder’s free agency as it has been a story for much of this season, but the two reserve guards are extremely important as well. Caruso has grown into not only one of the most popular players on the team but one of the most trusted, especially on the defensive end.

Horton-Tucker, meanwhile, is one of the team’s only young players with the potential to grow into much more and showed a ton of flashes this season.

Keeping the team together seems to be a priority for Pelinka and the Lakers’ front office and he reiterated that point in discussing the futures of the two backup guards.

“In terms of free agency we feel like we have a core group of players that can do special things,” Pelinka said. “I’m convinced that, again, without some of the unforeseen circumstances this year, the challenges we had to face, that we’d be a championship-caliber team.

“So the goal is to try to keep that core group together and of course with players like Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma, players that you draft or bring into your two-way system and groom and develop, there’s a level of pride in that and what the Lakers have been able to do with those players and to grow them. So of course our intentions would be to keep our core together and to have a championship team. So that would be the answer there.”

The Lakers dealt for Horton-Tucker on draft night after he was selected 46th overall and they have developed him into a very promising young piece. Caruso, on the other hand, was the team’s first-ever two-way contract player and the Lakers have taken great pride in how they have helped him become a real rotation player on a championship team.

The good news for the Lakers is that Horton-Tucker is a restricted free agent, which gives them the ability to match any outside offer signed. Caruso has also expressed a desire in returning to the team. But depending on how much they command in the open market, it could become extremely costly to keep everything intact.

Vogel anticipates ‘tweaks’ to roster next season

Between free agency, the draft, as well as potential trades, there is the possibility that the Lakers’ roster could be different next year. Everyone has expressed belief that the team as constructed could win a championship next season at full strength, but even head coach Frank Vogel expects at least some minor changes to the roster overall.

“Like I said, we’ll see how the roster shapes up for next year, but we believe in the group that we have this year,” Vogel said. “We’d love to have an opportunity to run it back at full strength, but obviously, there’s always going to be tweaks to the roster.”

Whatever moves need to be made to ensure the Lakers have the best possible chance to win another championship, the front office will be sure to do everything in their power to make it happen.

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