In the wake of Kawhi Leonard’s decision to join the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers have been busy filling out the remainder of their roster via a slew of free agent signings.
Using all $32 million of their remaining cap space, Los Angeles has added the likes of Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley, and Troy Daniels in recent days to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers additionally brought back some of their own free agents, hammering out new deals with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, and Alex Caruso.
Caruso, who was extended a qualifying offer prior to the start of free agency, was a restricted free agent and garnered attention from other NBA teams before signing a new two-year, $5.5 million deal to stay put in Los Angeles.
According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Golden State Warriors had significant interest in adding Caruso before ultimately re-signing with the Lakers:
Alex Caruso received significant interest from the Warriors before re-upping with Lakers https://t.co/ezvDCWzf3M
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 7, 2019
Even though the Warriors acquired D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets, the team is still on the lookout for guard depth. Caruso would’ve been an excellent fit, as Klay Thompson is expected to miss the majority of the 2019-20 NBA season with an ACL injury while Cook departed for Los Angeles in free agency.
First debuting with the Lakers as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M in 2017, Caruso has made a strong impression on the team with his contributions over the previous two seasons.
He most notably took a major step forward during the 2018-19 season, thriving on both sides of the ball with extended playing time to close out the year. Over his final six games, Caruso averaged 18.2 points, 8.0 assists and 1.8 steals while knocking down 55% of his three-pointers in 36.2 minutes.
In 25 overall games (four starts), the 25-year-old notched 9.2 points, 3.1 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 steal over 21.2 minutes per contest. He sunk 48% of his shots from behind the arc, which marked a significant improvement from his rookie season (30.2%).
With James expected to be implemented as the team’s starting point guard for the 2019-20 season, Caruso will compete with the likes of Rondo and Cook for backup minutes. Los Angeles believes Caruso is capable of taking on an even bigger role next year, which made him a priority for the team to keep in the fold.