Top Stories

Rob Pelinka: 'We made an aggressive attempt to re-sign Alex Caruso'

The team themselves have never addressed those reports, but during his customary preseason media availability, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka did push back on the sentiment of them nonetheless, disputing the premise of a question about whether keeping Talen Horton-Tucker or Caruso was “an either/or decision” for the team. “We made an aggressive attempt to re-sign Alex Caruso, and we made an aggressive attempt to keep Talen,” Pelinka said on Thursday. “That’s the thing with unrestricted free agency is that you can be in the mix, but players control the ultimate choice.”
“Alex was tremendous here as a championship player, and we’ll be forever grateful for his contributions and his growth,” Pelinka said. “Seeing him go from a G Leaguer, to a two-way (player), to an elite player was something we’ll always be proud of. But he had choices and he chose another team. We pursued him and wanted to keep him, same with Talen, and obviously came to a deal with Talen, and Alex moved on.”
The 6-9 James was listed as weighing 250 pounds last season. Entering his 19th season in the NBA and turning 37 in December, James felt he needed to make a change. “I think the thing that stands out is his fitness level, and he’s slimmed up,” Pelinka said on a videoconference call with reporters Thursday afternoon. “I think … we all know LeBron studies the greats and he adds things into his game and I think going into this stage of his career he’s made a decision to come back a little bit leaner and I think that’s going to translate in explosiveness and quickness.”
Pelinka mentioned Anthony’s 3-point shooting, in particular, as a valuable weapon for the Lakers, especially when defenses key in on James, Anthony Davis and Westbrook. “One of the ingredients that I felt like we really missed last year was just guys that were lasers that could space the floor and make catch-and-shoot,” Pelinka said of Anthony. “And when you look at AD when he gets double-teamed, or when teams collapse the paint against LeBron or now with Russell Westbrook, just having, to me, one of the greatest catch-and-shoot guys that has played in recent times. And most of that is just because of his confidence level. I think if you go back to the Olympics when Melo played such an incredible role on that team with just his ability to make open shots.
Now that Horton-Tucker is locked in with a three-year, $30 million investment, the Lakers hope he embraces a larger role defensively, as there is a gap in the rotation for the defensive-minded guard roles that Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope played. “I think Talen has got to establish himself as a dominant defensive player,” Pelinka said. “I think that’s going to be the expectations on him. You guys know (coach) Frank Vogel prides himself on that end. He builds everything with his defense. And there’s nothing that Talen doesn’t have to keep him from being an elite player. Just, we all know about his publicized incredible wingspan, broad shoulders, quickness, athleticism. If he makes a choice to dominate you on the defensive end with his body and his length and his athleticism, that can be a nightmare for opponents.”
James said his vaccination status was a “family” conversation and “private thing” when he was asked about it in May. Earlier in the month, former Laker point guard Dennis Schröder told a German-language publication that he and James were the only Lakers players who hadn’t received the vaccine, before later telling reporters he was the only Laker not vaccinated. Dwight Howard previously questioned the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines during an Instagram Live in July 2020. Kent Bazemore also told reporters that he wasn’t planning on getting the vaccine. Back in March, when he was with the Warriors, he said he considered the decision a “lifestyle thing.” Pelinka did not name which players have yet to be vaccinated.