However, they also had to give up valuable assets to build their current roster. One key player the LA Lakers failed to re-sign was Alex Caruso. He was instrumental for the side in their 2020 NBA Championship run and was one of their best perimeter defenders last season as well.
NBA Rumors: Minnesota Timberwolves were willing to take up Marc Gasol in a sign-and-trade deal for Alex Caruso from LA Lakers
Alex Caruso signed with the Chicago Bulls on a four-year $37 million deal. The Bulls did not want to engage in a sign-and-trade. Caruso's interest in joining Chicago gave the 6-time NBA champions a clear pathway to signing him using cap space. As a result, the LA Lakers ended up losing their unrestricted free agent for nothing.
As per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the Minnesota Timberwolves were one team interested in acquiring Alex Caruso via a sign-and-trade and would have also taken back Marc Gasol in the deal. Here's what Shelburne said on the "The Lowe Post" podcast recently:
“Caruso had a couple of deals, and I’m sure you’ve heard some of these too, Zach... He had a couple of deals, somewhere around the mid-level. One was a team that didn’t have to do a sign-and-trade, and that was the Bulls, and that was the one he preferred anyway. But I heard the Timberwolves were in on this. It would have been a sign-and-trade, and they actually would have taken back Marc Gasol."
The Minnesota Timberwolves entered free agency with a lack of cap space, though, which wouldn't have allowed the LA Lakers to create a trade exception. Marc Gasol is one of the few effective big-men available on the open market, and finding his replacement via a veteran minimum contract could have been an uphill task. It could be one of the main reasons why the Lakers did not engage in any talks with the T'Wolves.
Moreover, Gasol recently committed to playing out his contract with the LA Lakers this season. It will be the second and final year of the $5.2 million contract he signed ahead of the 2020-21 NBA season with the 17-time champions.