Rob Pelinka addressed the media late last week, answering a large number of questions that reporters had from a packed offseason full of Lakers news. Unsurprisingly, the shocking departure of Alex Caruso was addressed. Caruso left the Lakers in free agency, signing a deal with the Chicago Bulls.
Pelinka stated to reporters that the Lakers were “aggressive” in trying to keep Caruso, but that he decided to choose another team (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll).
Pelinka says the Lakers were "aggressive" in trying to keep Alex Caruso, and says he was "tremendous" with the team. Says that he just chose another team, it wasn't that they didn't want him.
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) September 23, 2021
First off, it should be noted that Sam Amick of The Athletic had a report early in August that directly conflicts with Rob Pelinka’s words at his presser. Here is what Amick had to say in a live Q+A for The Athletic:
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.
There’s no certainty as to what is true between Amick’s report and Pelinka’s statements, but it reasons to believe that Pelinka is only saving face by not publicly stating that the Lakers did not value Caruso enough to match whatever contract was being offered to him from the Bulls or any other teams.
The move seemed to be a tax-saving move for the Lakers’ owners, a tax-saving move that would align the reported money-saving move of not committing to head coach Frank Vogel on a long-term deal. However, we’re just going to have to take Rob Pelinka’s word that the Lakers were aggressive in trying to retain Alex Caruso, despite the directly-conflicting reports that state otherwise.