The Lakers have superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis locked up to long-term contracts, but will face some challenges during the 2021 offseason as they look to retain some of their key role players, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
One of those players is Alex Caruso, who will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career (he re-signed with the Lakers as a restricted FA in 2019). While Caruso’s numbers (5.8 PPG, 2.4 APG) are relatively modest, he’s a solid 3-point shooter (38.8%) and a capable defender who will be hitting the open market in his prime at age 27.
Caruso is expected to have suitors, according to Windhorst, who says some league executives think the veteran guard’s market could be in the neighborhood of the full, non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which will be worth around $9.5MM.
While I’d be surprised if Caruso got the full MLE from a rival team, there certainly may be clubs looking to put pressure on the Lakers by poaching away some of their rotation players, which could result in some higher offers than expected.
Let’s round up a few more Lakers notes…
- Second-year wing Talen Horton-Tucker is another player whom teams may compete over during the 2021 free agent period, per Windhorst. “He’s a gifted defender with great length and great upside who’s just 20 years old,” one Eastern Conference executive told ESPN. “In this market, that’s exactly the type of player you want to chase.” Horton-Tucker will be a restricted free agent who will be subject to the Arenas provision, meaning a rival suitor could put pressure on the Lakers by offering him a backloaded three- or four-year deal.
- The extend-and-trade restrictions that limited Dennis Schröder‘s ability to sign a longer-term extension before he reaches free agency have lifted, so it’s safe to assume he and the Lakers will explore a new deal. Windhorst identifies Dejounte Murray (four years, $64MM), Bogdan Bogdanovic (four years, $72MM), and Fred VanVleet (four years, $85MM) as some potential points of comparison for the Schröder negotiations.
- Veteran center Damian Jones looked good in his first appearance as a Laker on Sunday, recording eight points, three rebounds, and two blocks in eight minutes of action in a blowout win over Golden State. Jones, who is on a 10-day contract, is auditioning for a longer look with the team, as Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register writes. “I think he’s got a shot to be here (longer) if he can just do what he did out there,” Kyle Kuzma said of Jones.