The Talen-Horton Tucker era is officially over with Los Angeles. Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson were dealt by the Los Angeles Lakers to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Patrick Beverley.
While some fans might be sad to see Horton-Tucker traded, the acquisition of Patrick Beverley by the Lakers was a brilliant move overall. THT was just not contributing to the team’s ability to compete, and his potential as a young player was not going to materialize in LA as is. So why not get him something while the team still has the opportunity?
Even if the Lakers made a wise decision with this particular trade, it’s difficult to not reflect on the mistakes they made with Talen Horton-Tucker and imagine what might have been. These errors are now in the spotlight because, overall, the Lakers could have been very different if they had used greater judgment.
Making no trade for Kyle Lowry was the Lakers’ first Talen Horton-Tucker mistake
The Lakers and Toronto Raptors were in negotiations to trade for Kyle Lowry, who had a contract that was about to expire, back around the NBA trade deadline in 2021. Lowry didn’t have a big trade market, but conversations between the Lakers and Raptors continued, and it appeared like a deal to bring Lowry to LA was on the table.
Lowry had been the most impactful on the Lakers and when Anthony Davis retired hurt in the first round of the playoffs the Lakers might have been able to survive against the Phoenix Suns with the likes of Lowry and LeBron. This gave Anthony Davis more time to recover and make a comeback.
The Lakers would have advanced to the NBA Finals if they had defeated the Suns. In addition, Lowry might have agreed to a new contract once his initial one expired. That would have prevented Russell Westbrook from visiting Los Angeles at all.
Why then did it not occur? THT was not something the Lakers wanted to be part of the package. The biggest issue with the reported package, which also included draught compensation and Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, was THT. Although the Beverley deal was a wise move at the time. It cannot compare to the transaction that brought Kyle Lowry back for the 2020–21 season.
Preferring him over Alex Caruso
Despite being beneficial for the team right now, Patrick Beverley is the older version of Alex Caruso during this time. Caruso would have always preferred at his price point for multiple seasons instead of one year of Beverley. The truth is that Los Angeles could have easily re-signed both players, but they choose to avoid the tax consequences of doing so. It’s not like Caruso signed a huge contract to play somewhere else. He could have become a Laker. The management decided to double down on THT and let the more important player go.