Yes, you read that right: Alex Caruso.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, teams have called the Lakers about Caruso’s availability before Thursday’s deadline:
Multiple teams are inquiring about the availability of Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 5, 2020
In fact, it seems Caruso is the player teams are most interested — even more than Kuzma:
I had mentioned this previously - heard Lakers get more calls for Caruso than just about anyone else https://t.co/7RUjkaSTD2— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) February 5, 2020
Perhaps that has to do with the message the Lakers have been sending about Kuzma’s availability compared to Caruso’s, but the point stands: Caruso is a wanted man, and not just by Rihanna.
Something else to note on the Knicks and Lakers: before Knicks president Steve Mills was let go, New York and the Lakers touched base on potential trades, sources say. Among the players discussed were Allonzo Trier and Alex Caruso, per SNY sources. Talks at that time didn’t advance, per sources.
Caruso has averaged 5.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 18.4 minutes per game off the bench for the Lakers this season. Those numbers may not be jaw-dropping, but they don’t tell the whole story of Caruso’s impact.
Caruso is ranked first in defensive rating among Lakers that have averaged at least 10 minutes per game this season. In fact, Caruso’s ranked fifth among all players in defensive rating this season (min. 40 games, 15 minutes played). He’s also ranked second on the team in net rating, and 11th in the league overall in that stat.
He’s not just a meme — he’s really good, and the Lakers should only move him in the right deal. Like, this may sound ridiculous, but unless they’re getting a starting-caliber player for him in a bigger deal, there’s no reason for them to move him. Seriously.