Lakers lowballed Alex Caruso in contract talks?
Los Angeles Lakers fans were sad to see cult hero Alex Caruso leave the team for the Chicago Bulls this past offseason. Caruso’s account of his contract negotiations with the Lakers may not make them feel any better either.
Caruso appeared this week on “The Old Man and the Three” podcast with JJ Redick and indicated that the Lakers lowballed him in contract talks.
“So going into [free agency], I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said, per Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll. “I really didn’t hear much from any team, including the Lakers, leading up to 6 PM. Then they called, and the Lakers made their offer. It wasn’t an offer I was going to accept, because I was going to be able to get considerably more money from another team.”
Caruso described how the Bulls then called to express interest. They pitched Caruso on how he would fit in and eventually made a strong offer. Caruso then took that offer back to the Lakers to ask them if they would match it.
“Essentially we got that offer, went back to L.A., asked if they could do the same, they said ‘no,'” Caruso went on. “Asked for something else that was a little less, they said ‘no.’ So I said ‘OK, if that’s what it comes to, I’m ready to go to Chicago and start the next chapter.’ It’s been great. I think it’s been a great decision for me.”
Redick then posited that the Lakers’ initial offer was for less than two years and $15 million, which Caruso confirmed.
Caruso would go on to sign a four-year, $37 million contract with the Bulls. Meanwhile, the Lakers went in a different direction in the backcourt, signing the likes of Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, and Wayne Ellington. They also brought back Rajon Rondo on a minimum deal and traded for Russell Westbrook.
A homegrown Laker, Caruso reportedly wanted to return to the team as a free agent. But the Lakers were apparently unwilling to pay Caruso his true market value, forcing him to go elsewhere to get his paper.
Photo: Apr 3, 2018; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) warms up prior to the game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports