‘Goodluck in Chicago’: Senior NBA Writer Reveals What Led to the Break Up Between Lakers and Alex Caruso

Published 08/05/2021, 1:00 AM EDT
Feb 26, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and guard Alex Caruso (4) celebrate in the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Milwaukee Bucks might be the 2021 NBA Champions but it is the Lakers who are in the headlines for everything they’re pulling off-court. Be it the multiple single-year signings of league veterans or about letting go of their key bench players, the LA-based franchise is running unstoppable. 

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The greatest outflow from the Lakers came in the name of Alex Caruso. Everyone knew that the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and some other names might not wear Golden and Purple in 2022. But very few analysts/fans ever expected such an early departure of the crowd favorite in Alex. 

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Why did the Lakers let their White Mamba go away?

Just imagine the fan reaction if the Bucks send out Bobby Portis in a deal. Something similar happened when the Lakers announced that the 27-YO was bound to leave them. 

In a fresh podcast arrangement, the trio of Sam Amick, Fred Katz, and Anthony Slater discussed the events that led to this surprise. As Sam mentioned, “It is still a tough look for the Lakers and the way it went down was, Alex was not feeling the love for the Lakers in terms of the communication and the connectivity. So… it didn’t surprise me that he wasn’t back.”

Now, Alex Caruso was a very crucial role player for the Lakers in the year they won their 17th title and also the following season. Yet, the former G-League player was heavily underpaid, and it was time for him to earn what he deserved.

Sam further added, “four years, $37 million offer from the Bulls… if we go back to the Lakers, there was just no interest in countering…” So that’s how the Lake Show allowed their elite defender, shooter, and off-the-ball player to go away. 

May 30, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) moves the ball as center DeAndre Ayton (22) provides coverage against Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) during the second half in game four of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Why would Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss not counter that?

The Lakers had full bird rights of Alex Caruso and they could’ve maxed the offer to keep him intact. However, they chose not to and surprised everyone following the free agency. One reason behind this can be the very expensive acquisition of Russell Westbrook, the signings of multiple veteran-minimum contracts, and the holding of Talen Horton-Tucker (3-year deal). So an Alex Caruso addition could’ve impacted their luxury tax, and they clearly ran away from it.

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As per the famous sportswriter, I haven’t really got the clarity from the Lakers on how they decided on Alex, but it’s safe to assume the tax number with his situation played a big part. But still, there was a sense of disappointment without question on the Alex side about… what if we came at 80% of that number, there was none of that back and forth. There was a good-luck in Chicago type of feeling.”

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After learning this, do you think LeBron James should’ve done something to talk the front office into keeping Alex? Help us know your views in the comments section below.

Watch this story – Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Other Lakers Players Who Changed Their Jerseys Multiple Times

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Sourabh Singh

1611 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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