Alex Caruso agreed to a four-year, $37 million deal with the Chicago Bulls in free agency a few months ago. Because he was such a massive fan favorite in LA the news was met with a lot of disappointment.
That disappointment quickly turned into frustration when Caruso began to hint in the media that he wanted to return to the Los Angeles Lakers, but was ultimately low-balled.
Shortly thereafter, the Lakers came out and offered their own spin on what precisely transpired during negotiations.
This week, Rob Pelinka met with the media to discuss a myriad of issues. One of the more intriguing topics of conversation: why precisely Caruso ended up in Chicago this offseason.
“We made an aggressive attempt to re-sign Alex Caruso, and we made an aggressive attempt to keep Talen,” he said. “That’s the thing with unrestricted free agency is that you can be in the mix, but players control the ultimate choice.”
Translation: Caruso left because he wanted to.
Beyond that, Pelinka seemed to have nothing but nice things to say about the 27-year-old.
“Alex was tremendous here as a championship player, and we’ll be forever grateful for his contributions and his growth,” Pelinka added.
“Seeing him go from a G Leaguer, to a two-way (player), to an elite player was something we’ll always be proud of. But he had choices and he chose another team. We pursued him and wanted to keep him, same with Talen, and obviously came to a deal with Talen, and Alex moved on.”
The Lakers have had some messy break-ups this offseason. Things with Marc Gasol got particularly ugly. Same with Jared Dudley. And same with Markieff Morris. At a certain point you can’t help but look at the common denominator here.
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 24, 2021
Is Pelinka right to say that Caruso controlled his own destiny and opted to leave? Sure, technically. But if he felt like he wasn’t getting his market value, then technically his original point regarding being low-balled stands.
Hopefully both the Lakers and Caruso continue to enjoy success this season. Because if either party doesn’t, it’ll quickly become very apparent who real the loser of their divorce is.