The Los Angeles Lakers have some difficult decisions to make this offseason after a disappointing first-round exit in the playoffs this year. One decision that should be pretty easy for Rob Pelinka and company is bringing back Alex Caruso. Caruso will hit free agency in July; he last signed a two-year contract valued at 5.5 million dollars and should be seeing a pretty big raise this offseason.
While the Lakers surely want Caruso back, the difficulty will be making sure no other teams pry him away. One such team is the Cleveland Cavaliers who, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, are targetting the Lakers guard, as well as a similar player in T.J. McConnell.
The Cavs surely will not be the only team to look at Caruso in free agency. His defensive abilities coupled with major improvements in his shooting and playmaking offensively could entice any number of teams with money to spend to hand it over to Caruso, especially in what will be a pretty lackluster free agency class.
Still, the Lakers have to feel pretty good about their chances of keeping one of their most crucial role players. For one, there appears to be some confidence that Caruso will prioritize playing alongside LeBron James, with whom he has great chemistry, over other factors. Additionally, the Lakers have Bird Rights on Caruso, who has spent all four years of his NBA career in purple and gold, meaning they can go over the cap limit to re-sign him. There may still be some need for clever calculations to avoid a hard cap (just as there were last summer) but the main point is that if the Lakers want to keep Caruso, they can.
Caruso averaged 6.4 points and 2.8 assists per game while shooting an improved 40.1% from behind the arc this year. Like most of the Lakers’ roster, injuries partially derailed his season.