The 2021-22 season turned out to be a particularly challenging and stressful experience for Talen Horton-Tucker and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates.
The players, coaching staff and members of the front office all found themselves under scrutiny after L.A. failed to qualify for the Play-In Tournament. As a result of the team’s poor performance, head coach Frank Vogel lost his job while vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka announced the roster would undergo an overhaul in the summer.
Horton-Tucker’s future with the franchise was put into question in the middle of the season when rumors circulated about the Lakers shopping the 21-year-old around before the February trade deadline. The Iowa State alum struggled with consistency throughout the campaign after a preseason injury delayed his season debut by a month.
Horton-Tucker admitted to feeling frustrated due to the many ups and downs he went through in 2021-22.
“Just being consistent this year. That was the most important thing this year coming into the year that I wanted to do,” he said.
“Not happening was kind of frustrating, but I feel like that’s what we have the summer for, and that’s what we try to lock in and key in to.”
As injuries kept piling up for the Lakers, Horton-Tucker saw his role change frequently during the season — likely playing a factor in his inconsistent performance. But the guard said he wants to view the challenges of the previous campaign as an experience he can learn from.
“I feel like every situation that I’ve been in is almost like a learning experience,” he said.
“Being on the ball, off the ball. I feel like it’s experience that you need. Obviously, I felt better with the ball in my hands and I felt I had success with that, but just learning to play with stars was the most important thing they wanted me to do.”
Horton-Tucker didn’t feel extra pressure to justify new contract
Horton-Tucker entered the season after signing a new three-year $30.8 million contract with the Lakers, sending the expectations surging. But the guard said he didn’t feel the pressure to prove he deserves the money.
“No, that don’t put no pressure on me,” he said.
“I feel like I put more pressure on myself for another reason. Not because of that, though. I felt like coming into the year I just had to prepare myself to be in a role that I wasn’t going to be used to, so just being able to lock into that was the most important thing. It was probably would’ve been pressure with that, but not really.”
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