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RUMOR: The huge price tag on Lakers guard Alex Caruso this offseason

Lakers, Alex Caruso

The Los Angeles Lakers currently have fan-favorite Alex Caruso on a bargain $2.7 million contract this 2020-21 season. But that price tag could soon rise up significantly as he hits free agency after this campaign.

According to league executives, Caruso could demand up to the full midlevel exception (valued at $9.5 million) and could also garner $10 million offers from around the league. It certainly doesn’t help the Lakers’ cause that some of the big name free agents are no longer on the market this upcoming offseason, leaving several teams with money to spend.

Via Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

The 2021 free-agent market has been stripped of many of the biggest names, as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, Rudy Gobert and James elected to sign extensions to stay with their current teams. But there still could be 10 teams with $20 million or more in cap space and another handful with more than $10 million.

That means the Lakers could have competition to keep their role players. As an athletic guard who can defend, unrestricted free agent Caruso will have suitors. League executives think he could draw interest at the full midlevel exception range, which is $9.5 million next season. (Caruso currently earns $2.7 million.)

The Lakers certainly view Alex Caruso as a key component of their rotation. His numbers don’t jump out the page, but his value comes in the energy and hustle he brings, especially on the defensive end. Los Angeles usually puts the 6-foot-4 guard on the opposing team’s top perimeter players and his disruptive defense has been a major part of their league-leading defense so far.

Nonetheless, Lakers fans shouldn’t worry too much just yet, considering the Purple and Gold does have Caruso’s bird rights. This means they can go over the cap in signing the fan-favorite high-flyer. However, this will most likely result in a massive tax bill for the organization. All of this should boil down on just how much  the Lakers value Caruso, if he is indeed worth the hefty tax hike.