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Alex Caruso still wonders ‘what if’ he stayed with Lakers

Bulls guard Alex Caruso still wonders how things would have gone had he stayed with Lakers like fans wanted.

Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Alex Caruso is the one who got away. He was a Lakers darling, the Bald Eagle, the Carushow, The Goat.

When the Lakers asked Caruso to take less money to help them save on luxury taxes and he refused, it ended his time in Los Angeles. He ultimately ended up signing with the Chicago Bulls and the Lakers have been looking for an elite on-ball defender ever since.

Fans are still frustrated with this decision and that anger is warranted. The Lakers are the 15th richest franchise in the world and losing a player of Caruso's caliber for financial reasons is inexcusable.

Three years removed, the Lakers still have defensive issues in their backcourt, with D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves struggling to stop anyone from going off. Cam Thomas dropped 33 points against the Lakers during the last homestand, with many of those points coming from one-on-one possessions on Reaves.

Russell hasn't faired much better. He was benched earlier this season, with his defensive issues being one of the reasons and while he's been in excellent form recently, it's more so because of his offensive explosion than his defensive prowess.

The flaws this Lakers team still has could be solved with a player like Caruso and fans discuss it often. He's still on their mind, whether it's during a third quarter when the opposing guards are going off. Or when a current Lakers player doesn't do the little things right, like closing out on a shooter or struggling to fight off a screen.

Or even late at night, when you're feeling lonely, you stare at the ceiling and wonder, "Does he still think about me like I think about him?"

Well, based on a recent report by Melissa Rohlin for Fox Sports, Caruso does look at the Lakers' relationship as one of his biggest 'what ifs.'

“Yeah, definitely,” Caruso told FOX Sports. “Just because of how well I played with them when I was here. I know how I supported them. And I’ve gotten better. I was expecting myself to get better. It’s actually what had to move me on. I kept getting better and eventually I was at a point where I couldn’t stay here.

“I definitely have always thought about it because those guys [LeBron James and Anthony Davis] are my brothers. We’ve been through a lot together. Always good seeing them. Every now and then you think about what could’ve been.”

Brutal. But what's done is done. Caruso could help any team and that includes the Lakers. This faux pas by the front office has not been forgotten and will likely not be forgiven.

Could the team trade for him to right this wrong and bring Caruso home?

Based on recent reports, the Lakers have an interest in Caruso, but the asking price is multiple first-round picks, according to Jake Fischer, which takes Los Angeles out of the running.

Sometimes, you fumble a player and a return isn't meant to be.

Sorry, Lakers fans, but remember, it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.

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