Even though he was only a second-round pick in 2019, Talen Horton-Tucker immediately flashed potential that had the Los Angeles Lakers organization and its fanbase excited for what was to come.
That potential remained for the next few years although the Lakers never saw it materialize after trading to young guard along with Stanley Johnson to the Utah Jazz for Patrick Beverley this past summer.
The Lakers tried to see it through with Horton-Tucker, even re-signing him to a free-agent contract in 2021 that essentially was a choice to keep him over another fan favorite in Alex Caruso.
Even though the Lakers got back a quality veteran in Beverley that they like, it appears they waited too long to pull the trigger on a Horton-Tucker deal. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, there was an offer on the table at the trade deadline last year that would’ve netted the Lakers a first-round pick from the Toronto Raptors, although they declined:
“I’m told that the Lakers had talks with the Toronto Raptors where the Raptors late last year when it already looked like the Lakers were probably out of it or, at the very least, going to be a low seed and wouldn’t have a likely championship path to go all the way, the Raptors would have traded for Talen Horton-Tucker. Traded a first-round pick. So, think about that, the Lakers had another first-round pick on top of the two firsts right now to play with to try to make this team better…Now, of course, I’m told the trade would have also involved Khem Birch so they would have taken some money there and maybe Birch wouldn’t be the best rotation guy for this group but that first round pick is so valuable and it’s why they’re so hamstrung with what they can pursue right now.”
As the Lakers are currently finding out, first-round picks are extremely valuable in the NBA so it would’ve been smart to accept that deal even if it would’ve made last year’s team a bit worse at the time.
The Lakers are in the midst of trying to improve their current roster in hopes of competing in 2022-23. They have tried to attach their available two first-round picks along with Russell Westbrook to land another star but have had no success to this point. If they had a third first-rounder at their disposal then perhaps that would make a big difference.
Horton-Tucker was previously linked to Raptors as well
This was not the first time the Lakers turned down a Horton-Tucker trade with the Raptors as they did the same at the deadline the year before in 2021.
That trade would’ve involved Horton-Tucker, Dennis Schroder, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and perhaps draft compensation for Kyle Lowry. The veteran point guard has declined severely over the last couple of years, so Rob Pelinka may have been wise to decline that one.
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