Lakers News: Alex Caruso’s Bulls Jersey Among The League’s Best Sellers

The league is trying to retire the No. 6 jersey everywhere, but the ex-Lakers champ’s threads are just selling too darn well.

Chicago Bulls reserve guard Alex Caruso, a much-beloved 3-and-D cog on your Los Angeles Lakers, has apparently become one of the most popular players league-wide.

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As you’ll no doubt recall, the Lakers opted to re-sign swingman Talen Horton-Tucker to a ridiculously generous contract (betting on his intriguing upside) and let Caruso walk in free agency last summer. L.A. then turned around and signed a bunch of “win-now” (read: very, very old) pieces around THT, compounding the inanity of the decision to move on from a great fill-in-the-gaps win-now role player piece like Caruso.

Caruso, who wore No. 4 as his jersey number while playing for your Los Angeles Lakers, changed his jersey to No. 6 because Chicago has already retired former Bulls All-Star shooting guard and Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan’s No. 4 jersey from its general rotation.

Speaking of Hall of Famers, the NBA has decided to retire No. 6 jerseys across the entire NBA, in tribute to one of the all-time best to ever do it, late great Boston Celtics center Bill Russell. But that does not extend to Alex Caruso, at least not this season.

Because Caruso’s current Chicago jersey is such a best-seller (full disclosure: this author does in fact own a Caruso jersey), the NBA is for now not permitting him to change his jersey number again. He will be one of the few players wearing a No. 6 jersey this year, before ultimately probably changing his number in the seasons to come.

The 6’5″ combo guard out of Texas A&M was passed over in the 2016 draft. He played for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s minor league affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, during the 2016-17 season, before inking a two-way contract with a pre-LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers club in the summer of 2017. Along with forward Kyle Kuzma, Caruso would be one of the few young pieces brought aboard by Rob Pelinka to survive the team’s epic Anthony Davis trade during the 2017 offseason. Though not a traditional point guard, Caruso proved to be a critical bench player for the club, emerging as one of the NBA’s premiere perimeter defenders while exhibiting an ability to knock down the occasional catch-and-shoot triple. He was a key element of the team’s 2020 championship-winning season. The 28-year-old has a solid handle as a secondary playmaker, but lacks the passing acumen to be a lead guard.

His fairly modest stats in Chicago of 7.4 points (on a middling .398/.333/.795 slash line), 4.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals belie his overall impact on the floor.

Letting Caruso depart the team was one of the bigger offseason miscalculations of the 2021 Lakers. L.A. has already run out of patience with Talen Horton-Tucker, flipping the 21-year-old — whose playmaking, shooting and defense were purely theoretical — and athletic power forward Stanley Johnson in exchange for veteran point guard Patrick Beverley, who at this point of his career is a worse, smaller, more expensive Alex Caruso.

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