Amidst yet another blowout loss for the Lakers on Wednesday, Talen Horton-Tucker re-aggravated his ankle injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game. It was yet another injury blow for the purple and gold in a season full of them, and now Horton-Tucker is being listed as questionable to play in the team’s next game, a Friday matchup vs. the Toronto Raptors.
Horton-Tucker revealed earlier in the week that he was playing with a Grade 2 ankle sprain, an injury that typically has a recovery time in the neighborhood of 3-4 weeks. Horton-Tucker, however, has only missed a pair of games in recent weeks, and had played three straight games heading into Wednesday with scoring outputs of 20 and 15 points in that span.
That the injury comes at a time when he’s one of the few Lakers playing well as the team is free-falling is unfortunate. Losers of 11 of their last 14 games heading into Wednesday, LA has gone from potentially battling for the seventh or eighth spot in the play-in game out of the play-in games to flirting with falling out entirely. Losing one of their only recently productive players certainly won’t help there.
And with the Lakers seemingly giving up on the season — annoying the fans in the process — it’s hard to make much of a case for the Lakers to continue to play Horton-Tucker and risking his long-term health. As the team’s record continues to plummet, the Lakers will have to weigh the value of having Horton-Tucker play through an injury that could hamper him long-term into the summer.
Horton-Tucker is also one of the few young pieces the team will have going into the summer. Again, it doesn’t feel worth it to have him injured going into the offseason, either hampering how much he can work on his skillset or potentially harming his trade value. It doesn’t feel like a risk worth taking for a team with a pretty low ceiling on its postseason hopes.