The Los Angeles Lakers are trying to squeak their way back into Western Conference contention, a pursuit made difficult by their .500 play and top-heavy payroll. One way they can deepen their rotation is by moving third-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker, who the Lakers are “shopping” per Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
It’s difficult to get a gauge on what the Lakers could get for Horton-Tucker. On one hand, he has shown an ability to be a sturdy, physical scorer as both a starter and reserve. That said, he’s in the first season of a $31 million deal and the Lakers likely have zero leverage in trade discussions given he’s one of the few, if any players who can get them a plausible return via trade. As it concerns a trade, the 21-year-old Horton-Tucker should draw multiple suitors.
Here are three ideal trade destinations for Talen Horton-Tucker.
3) Talen Horton-Tucker enhances the Oklahoma City Thunder
- Thunder get: Talen Horton-Tucker
- Lakers get: Isaiah Roby, Ty Jerome and the Los Angeles Clippers’ 2023 first-round draft pick
The Thunder have a lot of young players, picks and therefore the depth to take a chance on Horton-Tucker being a part of their future.
Horton-Tucker would presumably come off Oklahoma City’s bench in a high-minute role. He provides head coach Mark Daigneault with a composed, jolt scorer who would join forces with a second unit that includes Tre Mann and Mike Muscala. In time, maybe Horton-Tucker finds his way into the starting five, where he’d make for a compelling young wing duo with Luguentz Dort?
The Thunder have arguably the worst offense in the NBA. It’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dort and minimal production thereafter. Horton-Tucker will have the ball in his hands a fair amount and get the chance to show what he can do in an increased role.
- Talen Horton-Tucker stats (2021-22): 10.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting 40.9/24.4/77.8
Oklahoma City sends Los Angeles a young rotation guard in Jerome, a bouncy forward in Roby and a future first-rounder, which could be used in another trade. From Oklahoma City’s perspective, they can afford to move one of their trove of first-rounders.
All that said, the Thunder may prefer to keep all their assets for a couple of blockbuster trades.
2) Talen Horton-Tucker lands with the Houston Rockets
- Rockets get: Talen Horton-Tucker
- Lakers get: Josh Christopher, David Nwaba and the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2023 first-round draft pick
The Rockets have a lot of enticing young players, but they appear poised to finish last in the West for a second consecutive season. Sure, one could make the argument that they’re better off not tinkering with this roster. On the other hand, Horton-Tucker fits the Rockets’ timeline.
Horton-Tucker could thrive as the Rockets’ sixth man, a path cleared by the team also trading veteran guard Eric Gordon. The former would further a developing second unit for head coach Stephen Silas that includes Alperen Sengun, Kenyon Martin Jr. and Armoni Brooks. Horton-Tucker could be the leading scorer of that unit, serving as the player others feed off.
You can’t have enough scorers in the NBA, and Horton-Tucker would become one of the Rockets’ smoother youth scorers. He’s on a team-friendly contract for a rebuilding organization like the Rockets, which becomes all the more valuable if and when Horton-Tucker has a tangible impact on their offense.
- Talen Horton-Tucker contract per Spotrac: first season of a three-year, $31 million deal
Houston sends Los Angeles Christopher, a rookie and capable shooter, Nwaba, a respectable two-way player who’s still just 29, and a first-rounder for their troubles. This trade keeps the Rockets’ core intact and their options open. Worst-case scenario, they move Horton-Tucker over the next 18 months if he doesn’t fit their scheme.
What could stop the Rockets from trading for Horton-Tucker, though, is them feeling he could take minutes away from Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.
1) Talen Horton-Tucker to the Detroit Pistons
- Pistons get: Talen Horton-Tucker
- Lakers get: Josh Jackson, Rodney McGruder, Brooklyn Nets’ 2022 second-round draft pick and Sacramento Kings’ 2024 second-round draft pick
The Pistons may be trading Jerami Grant, who’s their best player when healthy, and Cade Cunningham seems to be the lone piece who’s a definitive part of their future. Why not find out if Horton-Tucker could be such a player for their franchise, too?
Horton-Tucker could potentially be a day one starter for the Pistons next to Cunningham and alongside Saddiq Bey, who has made strides in his second NBA season. He gives the Pistons someone who’s willing to put the ball on the floor and can score in varying ways.
This is another one of the sport’s worst offensive teams. They need bright spots and players to lean on for scoring. A combination of Horton-Tucker, Bey and Hamidou Diallo out on the perimeter could be something for the Pistons to move forward with, especially if Cunningham and big man Isaiah Stewart continue to progress. The more, the merrier for the Pistons when it comes to young players who can score.
This is an experimental trade for the Pistons where they give Horton-Tucker the chance to prove himself capable of being a difference-maker; he can’t do this with the Lakers team he’s currently a part of.
Detroit sends Los Angeles a talented and productive young forward in Jackson, an occasional wing scorer in McGruder and a pair of second-rounders for a future trade. As for the Pistons, they keep their core youngsters and see if they have another in Horton-Tucker.