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Proposed Trade Dumps 1st-Round Pick, Reunites Lakers With $37 Million Star

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Head coach Darvin Ham and LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

One analyst thinks the Los Angeles Lakers could be among the teams keeping tabs on the Chicago Bulls this season, possibly looking to reunite with guard Alex Caruso.

“While the Lakers have assembled a deep, talented roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they might not have quite enough backcourt talent to make a title run,” wrote Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report on September 13. “If they decide to pursue an upgrade at guard, they might consider targeting a familiar face.”

Lakers get:

– Alex Caruso

Bulls get:

Jalen Hood-Schifino
Jarred Vanderbilt
– 2024 second-round pick (via LAC)
– 2025 second-round pick (via LAC)

Caruso, 29, helped the Lakers win a championship in 2019-2020 but left for a four-year, $36.9 million contract following the 2020-21 season. This past season, he earned All-Defensive First Team honors.

He averaged 5.6 points, 2.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.5 steals this past season.

Caruso also made a career-high 67 appearances (and 36 starts) while shooting 36.4% from beyond the arc and continuing to bring lockdown perimeter defense.

“Going back to Hollywood, Caruso could reprise his role as a featured reserve on a championship-focused franchise. Plus, if the Lakers brought him back, they might have enough depth to shop around a player like Russell and fill a different need on the roster, like depth on the wing or down low.”

The Bulls have held Caruso in high regard, and have not been willing to let him go for cheap.

Lakers Outgoing Pieces Not Essential

Vanderbilt, 24, started 24 of his 26 appearances with the Lakers in the regular season who acquired him at the trade deadline from the Minnesota Timberwolves. But the expectation is that postseason revelation Rui Hachimura will assume the starting small forward role this season.

That could make Vanderbilt, a defensive specialist in his own right, expendable.

Hood-Schifino was the No. 17 overall pick in the 2023 draft who was a mixed bag during Summer League, first impressing then struggling with efficiency.

“Hood-Schifino likely won’t be asked to play a huge role as a rookie for a stacked Lakers team, which is a good thing since … he has plenty to work on,” wrote Paul Kasabian of Bleacher Report on July 14 after the youngster shot 3-for-17 from the floor and 2-for-9 from beyond the arc, finishing with eight points in the Lakers’ Summer League finale.

D’Angelo Russell’s Contract Fueling Trade Speculation

Russell has been a popular speculative trade asset even after re-signing on a two-year, $36 million contract this offseason. Because the deal includes a player option for the second year, Russell was entitled to veto power on any trade for the first year.

He waived that right which has fueled speculation that he could be trade fodder.

But Russell has fully bought into the team-first mentality, noting that it’s going to take sacrifices to reach their goals, and the team is said to still be “bullish” on him too.

“We got a lot of bodies so trying to give the team what it needs every night to win, I think that’s got to be our focus,” Russell said on the “Pat Bev Podcast with Rone” on August 2. “And whatever or however it gets done, if everybody’s locked into just giving the team what it needs that night … it’s got to be right play, right mentality type of energy for our group.”

Russell started all 17 of his appearances with the Lakers during the regular season and 15 of 16 games in the postseason. But his playing time dwindled as he struggled during the Western Conference Finals.

The Lakers also added Gabe Vincent on a three-year, $33 million pact in free agency.

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