Since the start of the regular season, a lot has been made about the players the Los Angeles Lakers brought in during the offseason. However, arguably the biggest mistake the Lakers made in the summer wasn’t who they signed; it’s who they let go. Namely, Alex Caruso.
Although we’ll never know exactly what happened between the Lakers and Caruso in free agency, it’s been reported that Caruso had interest in coming back to Los Angeles and was even willing to take less money than what the Chicago Bulls offered him. In other words, the Lakers had the chance to bring him back and decided not to, likely because of the luxury tax ramifications.
That decision has not only left Lakers fans puzzled to this day, but it’s left executives across the NBA wondering what the front office was thinking, as illustrated in Eric PIncus’s latest story for Bleacher Report:
“I don’t understand why Kurt Rambis, of all people, let Caruso leave,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “Rambis was the Caruso of the Showtime Lakers.”
I’d argue that Rambis was more the Kyle Kuzma of the Showtime Lakers than the Caruso, but you get the point: If there’s anyone that should see the value in a gritty white dude, it’s Rambis, who currently serves as a senior basketball advisor for the Lakers.
Unfortunately, the criticism of the Lakers’ front office didn’t stop there:
“Caruso may not be super-talented [offensively] with the basketball, but he has a high IQ for all the little things and is obviously a stud defender,” a Western Conference executive said.
Several NBA executives shared a similar view on Caruso.
“The Lakers boffed that one,” the Eastern Conference executive said. “I’m not sure what they were thinking.”
Full disclosure: I had to Google the meaning of “boffed” and I don’t think the Eastern Conference executive that was quoted in the original story meant boffed. Maybe botched, but definitely not boffed, or at least not the first definition that shows up for “boffed.”
Word to the wise: Don’t Google it on your work computer.
But that misuse of verbiage aside, the general sentiment is right: The Lakers shouldn’t have let Caruso go. Whether you thought he was an All-Defensive player or just a good rotation piece, not re-signing him was just poor asset management.
Hopefully they’re able to learn from their mistake while still having a successful season. If not, we’ll be talking about how bad the Lakers boffed this for a long, long time.