In the weeks leading up to the NBA’s trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers were not looking to make any big moves. They went this route because the roster was performing well and there would be significant difficulties making a trade without giving away multiple pieces such as 20-year old guard Talen Horton-Tucker.
However, plans changed with the injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Since the team was struggling to compete without their two stars, the Lakers reversed course, making an aggressive bid to land Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors. The move would have bolstered their already great championship odds this season while helping them stay afloat without their two other stars.
According to reports, the Lakers offered a package of Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. However, the Raptors were not interested without the inclusion of Horton-Tucker. L.A. rejected this premise outright, saying that their second-year player was untouchable.
Now that the deadline has passed and the Lakers did not make a single move, Horton-Tucker was able to reflect on the Lakers’ unwillingness to deal him. “I’m just happy to be here,” he said after the Lakers’ loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
“I kind of just want to control everything I can control. I really don’t try to focus on those things. Of course you hear it, but it’s not something that I focus on. I just want to come out and play the best basketball I can wherever I am. So I’m just appreciative of still being here.”
More specifically, Horton-Tucker said he felt a sense of pride knowing the Lakers franchise valued him in that way. “I feel like it’s just something that I have to take and carry with, pride really. Just being able to represent the Lakers is something that I feel like every kid wants so just being able to be in this position is really good so I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
While Lowry could have certainly helped the team more this year than Horton-Tucker can, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka clearly wanted to look towards the future. With what they have now, the Lakers are still one of the top contenders for a championship, so they don’t have to sacrifice talented players for a win-now move.
Trading a 27-year old Schroder, Caldwell-Pope and a 20-year old Horton-Tucker for Lowry (35), could have had massive implications on the team’s future, even if it meant their championship odds this season would have been bolstered.
Schroder wants to see his options in free agency
Part of the reason Schroder could have been in trade talks is his impending free agency. Even though the Lakers guard has been extremely complimentary of the organization, he has never been a free agent and he wants to get a chance to experience that.
“After eight years, it’s my first time seeing what other clubs who have interest in me. It’s what I said, too, but nobody mentioned that on the media. Everybody is saying that I want to sign long-term with the Lakers, so end of the day, my last word on that is I want to see my options, but I want to be a Laker.”
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