Dating back to before the trade deadline, the vast majority of the rumors and reports surrounding Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and the trade package the Lakers shopped around the league has been how little value it has had. The Lakers shopped those players along with a 2027 first round pick around at the deadline to no avail, largely because no teams were interested in giving up anything of note for them.
At the time, it was likely a fair read on the matter with Horton-Tucker having a poor season and Nunn’s status being entirely up in the air as to whether he’d even return during the season. But now that teams are in the offseason, can reasses things and aren’t in the middle of a season, perhaps that trade package has some more value.
Longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney of Heavy.com recently published a piece in which he talked to an anonymous Western Conference coach who gave one of the most optimistic outlooks on Horton-Tucker.
“I think, with Talen, obviously he did not get to where everyone wanted him to be that quickly,” one Western Conference coach told Heavy.com. “But he is 21 years old. He is playing for the Lakers and development is not the biggest thing there. Every season he has been in the league, there has been COVID and the bubble and something that has gotten in the way of him making steps. But I think most of us would take him on our team in a minute. He is big (6-foot-4) and long, he can handle the ball, he can initiate the offense, he will be a good defender even if he is not there yet. He has value.”
Everything said there is true and the positive spin of trading for Horton-Tucker, a side that isn’t often told. He’s still a remarkably young player with multiple years of experience. He’s shown more than flashes that he can be a positive player in the NBA.
There are still some negatives, namely in that a team trading for him will likely only have him for one season if he’s successful as he can opt out of his contract next summer. But that’s a problem to tackle down the road and in the short-term, he could still provide a team a boost.
Likewise, Nunn also has some value even despite missing an entire year after telling reporters at his exit interview that he’ll be picking up his option. At the minimum, Nunn is an expiring contract. Best-case scenario, he’s a valuable young guard that could be flipped still at the deadline, as an Eastern Conference executive told Deveney.
An Eastern Conference executive agreed. “He was young when he came into the league, he’s still young now,” the exec said. “He is still raw in a lot of ways, inconsistent. But he steps up a lot when he gets the chance.”
The executive also said that Nunn has value, “because it’s a no-lose contract. Him and THT, it was the best package they could do, really.” Nunn has said he will pick up his player option (he can’t be traded until after that happens) worth $5.3 million for one year.
Now, how much that package will get the Lakers remains to be seen. Financially, it can put them in the ballpark for a player or players on a $15 million contract. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone in that range entices the Lakers more than keeping Horton-Tucker, Nunn and a first round pick separately.
But the fact is, the Lakers do have some value left in their potential tradeable players and that gives them even more flexibility this summer to ensure last season doesn’t happen again.