- Lakers could trade Talen Horton-Tucker before March 25th deadline
- With limited trade chips, reigning champions might have to deal young wing
- Lakers rumors are bound to feature Horton-Tucker over the coming weeks
As NBA fans who saw “The Last Dance” in May 2020 can attest, repeating as champion in the NBA takes constant reinvention. While the Los Angeles Lakers try to defend their title this season, they’ll try to tinker with their rotation and roster to land on the perfect fit. Lakers trade rumors about who they’ll acquire for the second half stretch run will run rampant. But the biggest asset on their team to get a deal done might be second year guard Talen Horton-Tucker.
He doesn’t have the cache as some of his other veteran teammates, but Horton-Tucker’s stock in NBA circles is rising. It was reported that several teams would be interested in offering him a contract in free agency. The Lakers likely won’t have the luxury of matching offers for him next summer, so their best bet might be to deal him at the deadline.
However, Horton-Tucker might prove to be a valuable part of the Lakers rotation down the stretch. He’s played over 15 minutes a night in the team’s last eight games before the All-Star break. The guard has also appeared in 33 of the team’s 37 games so far this season.
Let’s take a closer look at both sides of the dilemma to see what the Lakers should do.
Why Lakers should keep Horton-Tucker
As it stands now, the Lakers don’t really have any young emerging up and coming players. By design, their roster is constructed full of NBA veterans, so that the team can compete for titles year in and year out. LeBron James is not getting any younger, and the organization has rightfully prioritized winning now over player development.
Any franchise with one of the greatest players in the sport would choose to play it that way.
However, the Lakers won’t always be able to remain in the upper echelon of the Western Conference with solely veterans playing the lion’s share of the minutes.
Veteran role players often don’t have the energy to deliver on a nightly basis, and are subject to suffer/nurse lingering ailments. A Talen Horton-Tucker trade will leave the team perilously reliant on said players, which can affect their spot in the standings.
If restrictions around allowing fans are loosened in the coming months, the Lakers might be forced to play more conventional road games in populated arenas. Having the young Horton-Tucker available would give coach Frank Vogel a fresh player to rely on in the second half.
Why Lakers should trade Horton-Tucker
While having Horton-Tucker could benefit Los Angeles in the second half of the regular season, there’s little to no chance he plays meaningful minutes in the postseason.
The Magic select Talen Horton-Tucker with the No. 46 pick in the 2019 #NBADraft!
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 21, 2019
If the season is all about winning another ring (and with the Lakers, it usually is) it may not make sense to hold on to a player who won’t contribute this year.
Since the team is likely to lose the promising young guard anyway, and his market appears to be healthy, Los Angeles doesn’t have anything to gain by not trying to deal him. The Lakers could use a veteran three and D player to help guard opposing wings.
They could also use insurance in the front court in case star power forward Anthony Davis is not able to play his full compliment of minutes after returning from an Achilles injury. While it would be nice to infuse the roster with young talent, it just isn’t in the plan for this team in 2021.
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