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Lakers extend qualifying offer to Talen Horton-Tucker, making him a restricted free agent

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Talen Horton-Tucker is not going anywhere in free agency, unless the Lakers don’t want to keep him.

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Thursday that they have extended a qualifying offer to Talen Horton-Tucker, making him a restricted free agent. The team did not disclose how much that offer was, as per usual, but it is reportedly just $1.9 million, a small price to make it so that they can match any offer Horton-Tucker receives in free agency.

In short, it is now (essentially) up to the Lakers whether or not Horton-Tucker will remain with the team or leave. They can either...

  • Re-sign Horton-Tucker to a new contract
  • Match a contract offer he receives from another team to keep him
  • Let him sign somewhere else by renouncing this offer or just not matching a contract that another team gives him
  • Sign-and-trade him to a new destination

If Horton-Tucker really wants to leave, the only way he can really do so now is to accept the qualifying offer, play out the year on a $1.9 million salary, and then enter unrestricted free agency in 2022. Given how much less that QO is than the hefty offers he’s expected to receive coming off of a promising sophomore campaign which saw him earn a spot in the rotation for a playoff team after barely playing as a rookie, that is implausible to the point of being almost assured not to happen.

The Lakers had until July 31 to extend this offer, but it seems the team just wanted to get this book of fairly expected housekeeping out of the way. To not at least extend the offer would have been franchise malpractice, especially since they can later rescind it if they want to let him go anyway (much like the team did with Julius Randle a few years back).

For a more in-depth, immediate breakdown of Horton-Tucker’s 2020-21 season, check out our own Cooper Halpern’s season review.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.