Alex Caruso believes next-man-up mentality is ‘theme’ of Lakers’ season
The Los Angeles Lakers have dealt with some major blows to their backcourt with the restart of the NBA season only a couple weeks away. The team first lost Avery Bradley, who elected to opt-out of joining his teammates in the bubble, and now they’ve got to deal with Rajon Rondo’s absence due to a hand injury suffered in practice, which will require surgery.
With these two savvy veterans now out, the Lakers coaching staff needs a booster defensively and needs someone to step up to take on more ball-handling duties along with LeBron James. Alex Caruso has been an obvious choice has he checks both boxes and spoke about needing to help fill the void on Wednesday during a Zoom call with the media.
“With Avery [Bradley] gone, we were leaning more toward me and KCP to pick up some defensive duties as far as guarding the lead ball-handler to start games,” Caruso said. “We’re still figuring that out and working that out. And now with [Rajon] Rondo gone, we’re going to have to do some more supplemental ball-handling…I’m expecting to do a little bit of that. I’m not sure if I’ll do it 100 percent for lack of time and not knowing how we’ll approach it and how we’re going to satisfy the need.
“Obviously, we’ve got me. We’ve got Quinn [Cook]. We got other guys that can fill in and handle the ball and run the show. Whoever is going to be called upon is going to be ready to go. That’s kind of been the theme for this team the whole year, whenever we’ve had guys down, whoever has been backup stepped into their spot and filled the role very well, so I think that’s going to continue to be the theme. We’re going to try and work in the new guys and see how they are.
“The guys that have been here all year, we’re going to try to do our part and step into his shoes.”
Although the Lakers are down two crucial pieces to the championship puzzle in the backcourt, the team still has some formidable players to help get this team on track for when scrimmages begin next week, and seeding games start on July 30.
Caruso may not be the defensive force that Bradley is or have the playoff experience of Rondo, but he’s young, hungry, and will have the ideal opportunity to prove his worth due to the unfortunate events that have taken place for the Lakers.