The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly have their eyes on a veteran Los Angeles Lakers player, and no, it's not LeBron James again.
According to Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor, the rebuilding Cavs are likely to target 27-year-old guard Alex Caruso, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason:
"Any potential free agency list should start with Indiana’s T.J. McConnell and Los Angeles pest Alex Caruso. Both are Cavs targets. Both fit really well. Some prefer Caruso. He’s younger, bigger, stronger and can guard multiple spots. Others like McConnell more. Even though he doesn’t shoot many 3s, he’s more polished, capable of filling in as starter, puts pressure on the rim and was the league’s total steals leader."
Caruso averaged 6.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 58 games last season, playing 21 minutes per night to finish out a two-year, $5.5 million deal.
The Texas A&M product has been a valuable depth player in Los Angeles since the Lakers added him as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and has averaged 5.9 points, 2.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds over his four-year career.
That could prove equally valuable for a Cleveland club featuring an up-and-coming backcourt with Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. As Fedor noted, Cleveland general manager Koby Altman believes the team is in need of players who can "supplement" the current core.
That goes to show just how much belief the club has in Jarrett Allen, Isaac Okoro and Kevin Love—who still has two years remaining on his contract.
Considering the Lakers have numerous roster decisions to make with Dennis Schroder, Wesley Matthews, Ben McLemore, Andre Drummond and Talen Horton-Tucker all hitting free agency this year, Caruso's chances of returning to L.A. may rest solely on his price tag.
"Jeanie and the ownership group has empowered the front office to do one thing and that's to smartly build a roster to win championships," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said earlier this week. "That's been the hallmark of this team since Dr. Buss acquired it, and continues to be today. Clearly all 30 NBA teams are confined by a salary cap, so we've got to be smart about how we put all the puzzle pieces together, but there is only one goal, and it's doing it smartly to have a championship-caliber team."
Figuring out whether or not re-signing Caruso is a smart decision gets a lot more difficult now that the Cavs appear willing to add him.