3. Houston Rockets receive package built around Talen Horton-Tucker
This first trade proposal would be centered around Talen Horton-Tucker, the Lakers’ 20-year-old second-year guard. Horton-Tucker has become a fan favorite in Los Angeles and has proven his ability to score, although he’s still developing his game.
THT received significant playing time during the Lakers’ matchup against the Rockets in the 2020 Western Conference Semifinals, and rose to the occasion, averaging 7 points per game on 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from deep. That series represented the only playing time for Horton-Tucker during the Lakers’ championship run and he did enough to prove his value and worth.
This season, THT has averaged 14.9 points, 5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per 36 minutes. The 6-foot-4 guard has shown the ability to contribute in lieu of scarce playing time, which was especially on display when the Lakers recently faced off against the Phoenix Suns, as Horton-Tucker scored 16 points in 19 minutes, on 81 percent true shooting.
With a 7-foot-1 wingspan, THT has the ability to be a disruptor on the defensive end, making him even more valuable. Horton-Tucker comes with drawbacks however, as he becomes a restricted free agent this summer, which could prevent the Rockets from keeping him long-term.
In order to make the trade work financially, the Lakers would have to include the contracts of Jared Dudley, Wesley Matthews, and Markieff Morris, who are all players that could get bought out by the Rockets. This part makes it difficult for this deal to be completed, from the Rockets’ standpoint, as they would be acquiring four players that would all likely be leaving at the end of the season.
The Lakers don’t possess any first-round draft picks to sweeten the deal, due in large part to the deal they reached with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019 for Anthony Davis. What makes matters worse is that the Lakers don’t have players that could be moved for a first-round pick, outside of their key contributors, which could also cause the Rockets to be further disinterested in such a deal.
But the Rockets have made it known that they are seeking young players for Tucker and Horton-Tucker could represent that.
Next: No. 2