It’s never too early for trade rumors to begin. NBA writer Sean Deveney reported that the Lakers could be interested in reuniting with Bulls guard Alex Caruso to fix the mistake of letting him leave last summer.
NBA Rumors: Lakers Interested in Reunion with Fan-Favorite Guard
The Lakers had lowballed Caruso in the summer of 2021, ultimately allowing him to sign a four-year, $37 million contract with the Bulls. In the span since then, Caruso has averaged 6.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game, primarily off the bench. In eight games this year, he’s putting up 6.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game on .543/.350/.667 splits.
Meanwhile, the Lakers’ defense has taken a hit without him, as their bench posted defensive ratings of 55.5 in 2021-22 (14th in the NBA), and 56 last season (16th).
Even with the Lakers’ improvements in Caruso’s absence, Deveney quoted an Eastern Conference executive who said the team regretted their decision “almost immediately after it happened”:
“They knew that was a mistake. He’s not the same player now, but the Lakers are worried they don’t have enough of an edge. He could be someone who helps fix that.”
The Bulls are currently under .500 to begin the season and were previously asking for two first-round picks for Caruso at last year’s deadline. It’s unclear if their stance has shifted now, but with a flurry of injuries and a rough patch to begin the season, it’s reasonable that the Bulls part with several key role players before moving on from their stars.
Is a Caruso-Lakers Reunion Feasible?
The Eastern Conference executive added that, should the Lakers desire a reunion with Caruso, some of their young players could be available. Two names mentioned were Max Christie and Jalen Hood-Schifino, two young guards who have received limited opportunities with LA so far. Christie has averaged 3.8 points per game across four contests, while JHS has yet to make his NBA debut. In terms of draft capital, the Lakers don’t have many valuable picks, nor would they have to offer much in exchange for Caruso.
Caruso would reprise his role as a plug-and-play point guard if he returned to LA, playing behind D’Angelo Russell and Gabe Vincent. He would also make a key impact on the Lakers’ offense. He’s been efficient inside the arc, shooting 52% on twos—including scoring 43% of his points in the paint. Caruso has also earned respect as a perimeter threat, shooting 36% from deep for his career. He’s excelled in every position he’s been in and has proven himself throughout, especially in his increased role with Chicago. A full-circle return to the Lakers would be ideal for both sides. Caruso would be able to compete for another championship, while the Lakers redeem themselves from one of their offseason mistakes.
The Last Word on the Lakers and Alex Caruso
A Caruso reunion with the Lakers would be perfect if the stars aligned. He fits the two-way toughness that the Lakers have been missing, and is a Swiss-Army-Knife of a player the Lakers and their fans would welcome with open arms.