The Los Angeles Lakers have made their first handful of signings after free agency opened on Monday. However, the team took a massive blow that is more impactful than any of the players that the Lakers could sign this offseason.
The Lakers lost Alex Caruso. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Caruso agreed to a four-year, $37 million contract with the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers had Bird Rights on Caruso, so they either do not want to pay much over the tax apron or have something bigger in store with Dennis Schroder.
This is a massive loss for the team. While Caruso became popular among NBA fans because of the way he was treated on social media, he was one of the most impactful players on the Lakers. His defense is a big reason why the Lakers had one of the best defenses in the league and losing that is massive.
The Los Angeles Lakers are losing one of the best defenders in the league in Alex Caruso.
Alex Caruso not only does the things that do not show up in the box score but he is extremely favorable when it comes to advanced metrics. The only guard in the league who had a better Defensive Box Plus/Minus than Caruso last season was Matisse Thybulle, who was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
He is not just a great defender in isolation and on the ball but he is one of the best defensive players off the ball as well. His ability to stick with players off the ball and disrupt the passing lanes is something that the Lakers simply will not find out of anyone else in free agency.
Caruso was coming together offensively as well. While there was still work to do offensively, Caruso’s three-point shot was starting to come around and the Lakers were trusting him more to take the ball up the court.
Any value he added to the team on offense was only adding to the tremendous value that he was giving the team defensively. Alex Caruso was extremely important to this team.
The Chicago Bulls got a great rotation player in Caruso and it will be interesting to see what the Los Angeles Lakers do moving forward. They definitely could have one-upped the Bulls’ offer and a four-year, $40 million contract would not have been that restricting.
Sure, they would have had to pay a bit more over the tax apron but they are going to go over the tax apron anyway. If the decision to let him walk was purely for money reasons then Laker fans have every reason to be upset with the team. You don’t let a player like Caruso walk because a billion-dollar franchise does not want to pay an extra $5 million in tax.
This is a huge loss for the Los Angeles Lakers and no matter what they do in free agency this will be a cloud over Monday’s news.