Alex Caruso was on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt on Tuesday, which is a story in and of itself. I mean, we’re talking about two of the most famous bald men in sports having a conversation with each other, and they even took a moment to talk about their baldness! You just can’t beat it!
However, Caruso covered more than just his hair loss in his interview with Van Pelt; he also expressed his excitement to take on the challenge of winning a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers under unusual circumstances:
“For me, I’m looking forward to it, just because I think I thrive in situations like that, where you’ve got to get gritty and kind of tough it out — stuff that’s not status quo and it’s normal. For me, I’m looking forward to it. Obviously, I’m not looking forward to the situation and being hot and humid in Orlando and not seeing my family for that long of time, but given the challenge, I’m kind of ready for it ...
“This is easy for me. I got the crash course for two years, three years, playing in the G League. This is still an upgrade from that, so I’m still doing fine.”
Caruso also talked about his reputation as the internet’s favorite player, which Vogel took note of during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
“Is it true that Alex is the internet’s favorite player, as I heard the other night on some network? I don’t want to play favoritism or anything, but I heard that he’s the internet’s favorite player,” Vogel said. “I think that’s probably accurate.”
Upon the season’s restart, Caruso will be one of the several players on the Lakers’ roster tasked with making up for the absence Avery Bradley, who opted out of the season due to personal reasons. Bradley and Caruso are similar in the sense that they can play the 1 and 2 and impact both ends of the floor, but Vogel doesn’t see them as interchangeable.
“We wouldn’t ask [Alex] to be Avery,” Vogel said. “Alex is an elite defender in his own right, in a different way than Avery, as is KCP. That’s defensively. Offensively, clearly we wouldn’t run sets that Avery uses for Alex. We’d run plays that puts Alex in the best position to succeed. We’ve got a lot of depth on this team.”
They bolstered that depth on Wednesday by signing J.R. Smith for the remainder of the season. Between Smith, Caruso, Dion Waiters, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo and Quinn Cook, the Lakers should be able to fill Bradley’s role without having to drastically change the way they play.
That being said, it would be nice to see Caruso step up and play a big role for the Lakers in Orlando. As fun as he’s been this season, it feels like there’s untapped potential there — especially when it comes to lineups with him, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Caruso might not be Bradley, but he can be just as valuable, if not more valuable. We’ll see if he relishes that challenge as much as he said he will.