Bulls currently thriving with Alex Caruso, and the Lakers could’ve brought their defensive stalwart back at a discount

The 2019-20 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers team was more than just LeBron James or Anthony Davis. Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo and Ken tavious Caldwell -Pope were all important contributors to a team that finished 11th in offensive rating, and 3rd in defensive rating. The Lakers have been slowly getting rid of role players over the past two seasons, and this season it was Caruso.


Caruso's stats make him a great player to allow to walk free and help the Lakers save money. Caruso is not a starter. He has never averaged more than 10 points per game and has averaged 19.4 minutes per match throughout his career. The Lakers should have known that Caruso's impact cannot be measured by a box score. He was an excellent player with James and a terrible perimeter defender.

The Chicago Bulls recognized the potential in Caruso's talents and offered him a $47 million contract for four years. Caruso stated on J.J. Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast, that he returned to the Lakers with the Bulls’ offer and that, when the Lakers refused, his agents offered a slight discount. Caruso became a Bull because the Lakers wouldn't listen to him.

Reddick made a guess about what Caruso was offered by the Lakers on the podcast. Reddick said he would blink once if the offer was for less than two years, $ 15,000,000. Caruso exaggeratedly blinked and Reddick asked him shortly afterwards "Is it one blink right?"

Although the Bulls added several players to their roster in the offseason Caruso has been a great addition. The Bulls are averaging 27 minutes per game, a record for the team. Their defensive rating is third in the league, with 112 points per 100 possessions this season and 103.6 points per 100 possessions. Caruso, at 101, is the Bulls' player with the highest individual defensive rating. With four deflections per match, he's the fourth-most in the NBA. The Bulls are 7-3.

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Caruso is now out and the Lakers' only remaining players since the 2019-2020 championship were James, Davis, & Talen Horton Tucker. This offseason, they brought back center Dwight Howard, guard Rajon Rondo and guard Avery Bradley. Tucker played 13.5 minutes per contest in the championship season. In 2020-21, he will average 20 minutes per match. Tucker averaged nine points per game last year, but he was a liability in defense. While the Lakers defense rating is identical to last year at 107 points per 100 possessions (11th in NBA), they currently rank 11th. Tucker was given a $32 million, three-year deal. He has missed all of this season's games while he recovers from thumb surgery. The Lakers record stands at 6-5.

It is easy to see why Tucker was selected by the Lakers, particularly since James' father time is finally catching up to him. He is currently recovering from an abdominal injury. In his three previous seasons, he missed 58 games. Tucker's problem is that he is willing to take a gamble on Caruso's offense rather than Caruso’s defense. While LeBron is still a great player, the priority of the Lakers is to win many titles. In the offseason, they went all out with Russell Westbrook and Malik Monk, Camelo Tony, Howard's return, and decided to bring back one of their most reliable players. Tucker is a wildcard and Tucker claims that he was willing and able to accept a discount in order to stay.


They should hope that their partnership with Tucker will pay off. Otherwise, they'll regret it when James retires and only the "bubble championship" to prove it.