NBA executives believe Alex Caruso could land full MLE in free agency

Alex Caruso, NBA Trade Rumors, Detroit Pistons, Lakers
Ashley Landis/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso is expected to receive some considerable offers in the 2021 offseason. He is emerging as a team to watch in NBA rumors as the offseason approaches.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that league executives think Caruso could draw interest at the full-midlevel exception range in NBA free agency. That would net him $9.5M for his 2021-22 salary. The Lakers payroll and luxury tax bill could be over a quarter of a billion dollars for next season.

“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.)”

Which means, the defending league champions could be in danger of losing one of their best role players in NBA free agency.

RELATED: NBA Trade Rumors: Here is how the Lakers could trade for Kings’ Hassan Whiteside

Alex Caruso has played all four of his professional seasons with the Lakers, averaging 5.7 points, 2.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1 steal in 18.3 minutes per game. The 27-year-old point guard has become one of the most popular players in the league since coming off the bench to assist LeBron James and Anthony Davis the last two seasons.

The Lakers will have their work cut out for them following this season trying desperately to keep their roster intact, given their current financial plight. They re-signed Caruso in 2019 on a two-year, $5.5 million deal, but retaining him will become more dicey now that they also have another significant expiring contract ahead with Dennis Schroder, who has done a fantastic job manning ball handling duties for LeBron James this year.