For a couple seasons, Alex Caruso had Los Angeles Lakers fans wondering what could be if he only got the opportunity to more consistently produce. As frustrating as that was to watch from the outside, just imagine how maddening it must have been for Caruso, who had plenty of reasons to believe he could play in the NBA.
This past summer, Caruso had the chance to control his own destiny and choose a situation to continue to prove himself, and he returned to the Lakers. He explained why to Kyle Goon of the OC Register:
But when negotiations finally began, Caruso said the Lakers’ offer, a reported two-year, $5.5 million deal, was the most money he saw.
But the biggest thing he needed to know was that he could compete for a regular rotation spot – assurance he got from the new coaching staff.
“I knew there was opportunity,” he said. “Coach Vogel called me when I was pretty close to making a decision and said there’s opportunity for minutes and that’s all I’ve ever needed in my career. And L.A. was the most money that anyone was going to offer me out of the guys I was talking to. And LeBron, A.D. – I knew we were going to be good.”
Even still, Caruso has had to prove that he belongs on an NBA court, though again, that’s all he really asked for. Caruso believed that, if given the chance, he would show exactly what he has thus far.
Now, that doesn’t mean there still isn’t work to do. Caruso is still playing fewer minutes per game than any other regular rotation guard, behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (25.1 minutes per game), Avery Bradley (24.7), and Rajon Rondo (21.9). To be clear, Caruso is playing just fewer than Rondo at 20.9 minutes per game, but ideally, he’d sit atop the guard rotation, not at the bottom of it.
This is the Net Rating of every Lakers player alongside LeBron & AD pic.twitter.com/2RAfHX245d— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) December 24, 2019
But there is still plenty of time to continue proving himself and, while politics are obviously going to play a role in where minutes go, if Caruso makes it painfully clear he should be playing more than Rondo at the very least, the Lakers would be a better team. It would also mean the chance they took on an undrafted, slightly balding point guard from Texas A&M will have fully paid off, as will have Caruso’s decision to continue on as a Laker last summer.