Easily one of the most polarizing decisions made this summer was the Los Angeles Lakers parting ways with Alex Caruso in order to afford to keep Talen Horton-Tucker. That decision could prove to be a real fork in the road moment given the ambitions of this team and where both those players are in the careers. So this week in the Lakers Lounge, Harrison Faigen and I discussed what we think could be in store for the youngest, yet fourth highest paid Laker.
It’s going to be damn near impossible to separate Horton-Tucker from the aforementioned decision, as unfair as that might be. It’s not like THT walked into Rob Pelinka’s office and demanded that he choose between him and Caruso. Still, though, given that the opportunity cost of keeping him was losing someone who for years now has played championship-level basketball, this is part of the context under which this contract will be evaluated.
All that said, both Harrison and I are optimistic about what Horton-Tucker might be capable of this season, though I’m more cautiously so. He’s still going to be on a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both of whom — because of the agency they share — are going to be even more invested in his success than stars otherwise might be. Horton-Tucker is also somewhat unique in skillset and body type, which might help him earn minutes alongside fairly similar players in Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn.
That said, if it becomes clear that Nunn, Monk or anyone else in the Lakers’ crowded backcourt rotation are more ready to help them win now, THT might once again be looked at more as potential rather than immediate production, and given what it cost to retain him, that would be a disappointment.
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