When Alex Caruso signed with the Chicago Bulls, fans and experts alike questioned why the Los Angeles Lakers let him walk away. It was then revealed that the Purple and Gold did not counter, suggesting that they didn't want the gritty guard back.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, that was not the case. The Lakers wanted to re-sign him. Unfortunately, they were really unable to counter given that the Bulls' offer was far from the price point they set for Caruso.
A source with knowledge of the negotiations strongly refuted the inference that he wasn’t wanted back. That doesn’t change the fact that Caruso’s side claimed to be confused about the communication element of the negotiation, but it seems the Lakers’ calculus was similar to the one Milwaukee faced with P.J. Tucker.
In both situations, there was a price point that both franchises were willing to go to based on the exorbitant luxury-tax hit that would come their way. And in the end, after initial interest, they simply decided to part ways when the price went too high. …
Alex Caruso inked a four-year, $37 million deal with the Bulls, reuniting with his former Lakers teammate Lonzo Ball and joining the backcourt alongside Zach LaVine and Coby White.
As for the Lakers, they signed a slew of veterans on cheap deals, including Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard and Kent Bazemore, to name a few. They also kept Talen Horton-Tucker while adding backcourt depth with the addition of Kendrick Nunn.
Caruso's future with the Lakers was already questioned after the team traded for Russell Westbrook before the 2021 NBA draft. Sure enough, the franchise knew it couldn't afford to keep him given the tax hit it would incur.