The more he plays, the more obvious it becomes that Talen Horton-Tucker has a bright future in the NBA. At just 20-years-old, the Los Angeles Lakers guard has held his own on a team that won the championship last year. In the offseason, everybody was talking about the additions of Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell. Nobody really gave much thought to the idea of Horton-Tucker getting a lot of minutes this season.
Well, he’s made it impossible for the Lakers to keep him off the court and now everybody across the league knows his name. With free agency looming for Horton-Tucker, the team might want to start thinking about his contract situation. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Lakers could get creative with an offer.
“People think that he can get the Tyler Johnson poison-pill contract,” Windhorst said on The Hoop Collective podcast.
Back in 2016, Johson was a restricted free agent for the Brooklyn Nets and signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet. However, the Miami Heat matched the offer and he ended up joining them. His contract ended being backloaded so Miami paid him less than $6 million a year in his first two seasons, and then traded him before the big money kicked in.
A contract like this could give the Lakers a chance to get a better feel for Horton-Tucker, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the current season. Los Angeles would get two more years to see if he’s actually a star while not investing too much money. If he is, they’ll happily pay him whatever money he is due or trade him for a decent haul.
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Anthony Davis Thinks Highly of THT
Horton-Tucker came into the NBA as a second-round pick in 2019. Typically, those players don’t end up becoming stars. It remains to be seen if he will develop into a star but his Lakers teammates certainly believe in him. Anthony Davis thinks very highly of the young guard.
“A lot of credit goes to him,” Davis said after a recent win over the Denver Nuggets. “He came in doing good things defensively. Scoring the basketball, making the right plays. We trust him. I know he’s young, but he wants to be in the game when it is crunch time. We can throw him in a game at any point and he’s going to make plays for us.
“He’s a young player that wants to learn, who wants to get better and I think the only way you can do that is with experience and he is not afraid of anyone.
“Heart of a lion. He was on a championship team last year, so he knows what it takes and I think it was good for him just to be around even though he didn’t get much playing time last year, but just being around it and being around all the veterans and all the guys. He knows what we expect from him and he comes and brings it every single night.”
Will Teams Target THT This Offseason?
There’s only so much that Horton-Tucker can do this season to prove his worth. The Lakers don’t have a lot of minutes to give so it could be difficult for him to get the playtime that he likely deserves. He appears to enjoy being in Los Angeles but needy teams could offer him good money and a bigger role.
He could become a very popular name this offseason. A general manager recently told Sean Deveney of Heavy.com that multiple teams could be interested in the guard. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.