Sam Amick of The Athletic had the scoop on what went down behind the scenes when Caruso’s people met with the Lakers after the Bulls made an offer.
"According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Caruso's camp went back to the Lakers after the Bulls made their offer and were told that there would be no counter," wrote Amick.
If true, this is a baffling lack of effort from the LA Lakers at the start of NBA free agency as Alex Caruso is one of the major pieces to the 2020 championship team. He gave the Lakers a much-needed boost of energy on both ends of the court.
On Monday, Alex Caruso reportedly signed a four-year, $37 million offer from the Bulls, which rounds out to just $9.25 million a year. That’s much less than the earlier rumored $13 million a year that he would command in the open market during NBA free agency.
NBA Free Agency Rumors: LA Lakers owned Alex Caruso’s Bird rights
What made the LA Lakers’ lack of drive to retain Alex Caruso even more bizarre is the fact that they owned his Bird rights in NBA free agency. As such, the Lakers had the right to re-sign him as much as they wanted to, even if they had to go beyond the salary cap to make it happen.
Based on Amick’s report, it seems as though the LA Lakers already have a fixed plan in place to build the championship team that they want next season. Whether it’s a salary issue or a fit issue with the team during this year’s NBA free agency, letting Alex Caruso walk away for nothing is a mind-boggling decision from Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations and general manager.
Knowing his value to the team, Alex Caruso was expected to be one of the players the LA Lakers would have fought tooth and nail for in order to retain his services. His defensive intensity and ability to clamp down on some of the best backcourt players made him a valuable member of the Lakers the past few seasons.
Last season, Caruso averaged 6.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game and shot 40.1 percent from three-point range for the LA Lakers. He was an unrestricted free agent heading into the offseason.