The Lakers nearly complete roster refresh this offseason saw a host of new faces come in with only a few holdovers. Less than 12 months removed from winning an NBA title, the franchise hit a reset button this offseason, revamping the roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Many fan favorites were casualties of the overhaul - namely in Alex Caruso after the Lakers opted not to go deeper into the luxury tax to retain him. However, one player whose future with the franchise hardly ever seemed in doubt was Talen Horton-Tucker. As each day leading up to and after the start of free agency passed with no reports on Horton-Tucker’s free agency, the likelihood of him returning increased.
Eventually, Horton-Tucker did just that, agreeing to a three-year, $32 million deal to remain with the franchise that drafted him 46th overall in 2019. While it wasn’t the max contract one Eastern Conference executive revealed he would give Horton-Tucker, it’s a significant pay raise that will also keep the Iowa State product with the franchise.
On Friday, Horton-Tucker spoke about his decision to return to Los Angeles.
“I feel like it was a no-brainer just to come back where I started and just kind of run it back,” he said. “I want to win a championship... so being around this group of guys that we have is going to be a plus for me.”
As the lack of reports about his future also suggested, Horton-Tucker also revealed that he never offered serious consideration to playing for another franchise.
“I was pretty focused on trying to get back here, he added. “I just wanted to make it an emphasis to come back, so I was happy that we were able to get it done.”
Given how free agency played out for each player, the Lakers clearly valued retaining Horton-Tucker over Caruso. While it didn’t need to be an either/or scenario, the franchise did put an emphasis on retaining the 20-year-old Horton-Tucker who has already proven to be a rotation player on a title contender.
The roster turnover will almost certainly lead to more minutes for Horton-Tucker next season. Given his rapid ascension from G League standout to NBA role player all before his 21st birthday, anything feels possible for Horton-Tucker’s future. Fortunately, that future will be in the purple and gold.