LeBron James has had great teammates throughout his career. Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving, and Anthony Davis obviously come to mind immediately, but there have been plenty of others to succeed with The King. In fact, while Alex Caruso has a much smaller name than those guys, he had undeniably good chemistry with James at the Los Angeles Lakers.
But Caruso moved out of Los Angeles last offseason, as he is now with the Chicago Bulls. And he recently revealed what influenced his free agency decision and why he decided to leave the Lakers.
Alex Caruso may not have had incredible stats for the Lakers, but he played his role, and he did it well.
After playing in both the NBA and the G-League during his first three professional seasons outside of Texas A&M, Caruso became a valuable player for Los Angeles during his championship run in 2019-20. He only averaged 5.5 points that year, but he ranked second on the team, behind only Anthony Davis, with a 2.4 plus-minus defensive frame, which estimates the defensive points for every 100 possessions a player brings to his team above. of the league average. player.
Caruso continued to play well the following season. He had 6.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in 2020-21, and ranked second in the Lakers again with a 2.3 plus-under defensive frame. But where he really shined was in his ability to help LeBron James play like, well, LeBron James.
The net score calculates the point difference for a team per 100 possessions. The Lakers’ total net rating in 2019-20 was +5.6, but when Caruso and James were on the court together, it was +18.6, according to CBS Sports. In 2020-21, it was +2.9 compared to +17.1.
So LA probably knew that losing Caruso meant losing one of James’s best teammates. They just didn’t do enough to hold him back.
Alex Caruso on leaving the Lakers: “I was coming back to LA and I asked them if they could match Chicago’s offer, and they said no. I asked them if even a little less and they said no again. I realized that I was ready to go to Chicago and start a new chapter.