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Lakers Rumors: Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker to Have 'Multiple Suitors' in FA

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 31, 2021

Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

As they retool their roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers are likely to have a fight on their hands to retain Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker.

ESPN's Zach Lowe reported Saturday the two free agents "will have multiple suitors."

For the Lakers, holding on to their players will be critical because they have little money to spend on outside additions. They already sacrificed some depth to reportedly acquire Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards.

One concern about the Westbrook trade is that Los Angeles swapped three for one, agreeing to send Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell to the nation's capital.

Filling out the rest of the squad won't be easy for general manager Rob Pelinka.

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

The Lakers are right at $130M in salary heading into the offseason. <br><br>Can still bring back their own free agents, including Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker.<br><br>LA will also have the $5.9M tax ML and vet minimum exception.

The Lakers can at least go over the salary cap to re-sign Caruso and Horton-Tucker, with the Westbrook trade giving them an even stronger incentive to do so.

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Caruso was a solid backup point guard behind Dennis Schroder, averaging 6.4 points and 2.8 assists in 21.0 minutes per game in 2020-21. His three-point shooting (40.1 percent) will also be sorely needed given the spacing issues the trio of James, Davis and Westbrook will create.

Horton-Tucker put up 9.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, and his perimeter defense was valuable for L.A. According to NBA.com, he held opposing shooters to 33.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

One consequence of going after Westbrook, though, is that opposing teams will probably see the Lakers as even more desperate to bring Caruso and Horton-Tucker back.

"Some agents and team executives expect a climate in which teams might offer all or most of the midlevel at the starting gun and demand a quick answer," Lowe wrote. "If some rival does that with Caruso, will the Lakers match or exceed it right away? If they haggle, will it cost them?"

As Lowe posited, the Lakers might have to pay more than they'd like for Caruso and Horton-Tucker, and they could suffer the consequences if they drag their feet.

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