The Los Angeles Lakers have been urged to make a draft-day trade involving Kendrick Nunn, Talen Horton-Tucker and their 2027 first-round pick.
In a June 22 column, Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes suggested that the Lakers trade Nunn, Horton-Tucker and a 2027 draft pick to the Toronto Raptors for Gary Trent Jr.
“The Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t get anything at the 2022 trade deadline by dangling the above package, but maybe they’ll have better luck on draft night,” Hughes wrote. “These three assets—Nunn, Horton-Tucker and that distant first-rounder—make up the franchise’s only realistically moveable pieces, and you’re not alone if you think the two players involved stretch the normal definition of the word ‘assets’ a little too far.
“That 2027 first-rounder, though? That could have serious value given Los Angeles’ bleak outlook in a post-LeBron James world. It’s the kind of lottery ticket that could convince the Toronto Raptors to part with a starting-caliber guard like Trent, who’d immediately become the Lakers’ best high-volume three-point shooter and backcourt defender.”
Horton-Tucker appeared in 60 games for the Lakers in 2021-22. He averaged 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 41.6% from the field, 26.9% from beyond the arc and 80.0% from the free-throw line. The Chicago native will make $10.3 million in 2022-23.
Nunn didn’t play at all in 2021-22 due to a bone bruise in his right knee. According to a June 21 report from ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the guard is opting into the final year of his contract with the Lakers worth $5.3 million.
Hughes: Trent Jr. Is the Type of Player the Lakers Need
Trent Jr. played 70 games for the Raptors in 2021-22. The swingman averaged 18.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists and shot 41.4% from the floor, 38.3% from 3-point range and 85.3% from the charity stripe.
Hughes believes Trent Jr., 23, is the exact type of player the Lakers need around superstar LeBron James.
“From the Lakers’ side, this is all about adding talent in the short term,” Hughes wrote. “Trent, who averaged 18.3 points per game as a full-time starter in 2021-22, would be a major upgrade over both outgoing Lakers and is exactly the type of three-and-D support piece that has always worked well alongside James.”
Trent Jr. signed a three-year, $51.8 million contract with the Raptors in August 2021. He’ll make $17.3 million in 2022-23 and has a player option worth $18.6 million for the 2023-24 season. The Duke product projects to fit well alongside James and Anthony Davis since he can stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting.
Lakers Need More Shooters & Playmakers
In a June 2 column, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley wrote that the Lakers need more shooters and playmakers around James and Davis. Trent Jr. could fit that bill since he’s 6-foot-5 and a reliable shooter from beyond the arc.
“The simplest formula for winning big with James is surrounding him with shooters and letting him attack,” Buckley wrote. “It puts opponents into one can’t-win situation after the next. Crowd James, and he’s a good enough quarterback to find open teammates. Stay at home on the shooters, and he will obliterate his matchup.
“There are enough lights-out shooters in the modern NBA that this problem should be correctable. The challenge, though, is finding sharpshooters who can bring something else to the table. Having a specialist such as Wayne Ellington doesn’t offer much assistance when his limitations are too great to give him a regular rotation role.”
James and Davis need players around them who can shoot, play defense and score off the dribble if they want to win another title together. Since both All-Stars have been prone to injuries the past few years, the Lakers could benefit from adding Trent Jr., who averaged 15.3 points in the 2022 playoffs.