LAS VEGAS- Alex Caruso’s biggest win of Las Vegas Summer League wasn’t the Los Angeles Lakers’ first (and Lonzo Ball-less) victory over the Sacramento Kings. It wasn’t the next two wins after that, either.
Instead, the one-year minor league veteran’s largest accomplishment came at a small table in the lobby of the Lakers’ team hotel. That tiny glass table is where the team signed him to a two-year, two-way contract to play for both the Lakers and their G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers.
"It feels good. I like the organization. It's a prestigious organization. It's got a great history, a great culture of winning and I think they're moving in that direction again,” Caruso said. “I'm excited to be a part of it."
Caruso is a “part of it” on one of the new two-way contracts introduced as part of the most recent collective bargaining agreement, which will allow him to spend up to 45 days on an NBA roster while receiving “a maximum of $275,000 per season” depending on how many days he’s with the Lakers.
If the Lakers keep him with the parent more than 45 days, they will have to sign him to an NBA deal. Caruso will spend the rest of his time in the G League making G League money with the South Bay Lakers.
"I knew coming into this offseason that I was probably going to have a chance at one of those [two-way contracts], so I did my research and my homework to figure out what it was like,” Caruso said. “My agent did a good job of relaying the message to me of what they wanted to set up and stuff like that. I feel comfortable with it. I'm excited.”
Caruso earned his opportunity with his standout 18-point, nine-assist performance that saw him shoot 77.8 percent from the field while hitting four of his five three-point attempts in the Lakers’ first summer league win over the Kings, a game he said “expedited” the process of the Lakers’ signing him.
“I got a call from my agent a couple days after that big game I had telling me 'hey, they want to do it this week,'“ Caruso said following the Lakers’ win over the Cavaliers Thursday. “I was like 'awesome. let's get it done.' So we went up to the hotel lobby this morning and got it signed."
Outside of his big game, Caruso has also ranked second on the Lakers’ summer league team in assists (3.2) and third in steals (1.4) while shooting 45.5 percent from behind the arc. Stats like that may have earned him his first real NBA shot, but he says winning motivates him more than his own numbers.
"Once I get on the court, by the way I play, hopefully they can tell that I'm out there just trying to win. I'm not out there thinking about getting so-and-so money on some contract,” Caruso said. “I'm just trying to win."
Contract in hand, winning is now all Caruso has to worry about.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.