The injury issues are piling up for the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the regular season. They’ve already lost Trevor Ariza for two months due to an ankle injury. It now appears that they’ll be missing another key player for some time.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, guard Talen Horton-Tucker will be undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.
Horton-Tucker didn’t play in Sunday’s preseason game against the Phoenix Suns due to what was called a right thumb sprain. It’s obvious now that the injury was much worse than a simple sprain. Horton-Tucker was handed a three-year contract extension in the offseason with the Lakers. He was expected to have a large role on this team as one of the few young players among a sea of veterans. This is a disappointing development for the emerging guard and also disappointing for the Lakers, who expect big things from him.
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How Long Could THT Be Out?
A torn ligament is a brutal injury no matter where it happens on the body. Unfortunately for Horton-Tucker, the ligament tear was on his right thumb. He shoots with his right hand so this wouldn’t have been an easy injury to play through. No specific timeline has been released for when he can return.
It’s been speculated that it could take six to eight weeks for him to return, per Dr. Rajpal Brar.
If that timeline holds true, then Horton-Tucker will be out for about the same time Ariza will be out. This injury shouldn’t keep the guard for the whole season but it will certainly slow down his development.
Can THT Become an Elite Player?
This injury is a major setback for the promising young guard but the Lakers remain very high on him. General manager Rob Pelinka just recently revealed just how good he thinks Horton-Tucker can be.
“There’s nothing Talen doesn’t have to keep him from being an elite player,” Pelinka said, via Sports Illustrated.
Though he was a second-round draft pick back in 2019, the Lakers have known they found a steal in him for a while. Horton-Tucker is far from a finished product. Head coach Frank Vogel would like to see more from him on defense.
“Let’s talk about THT,” Vogel said on Spectrum SportsNet’s Lakeshow podcast, “You talk about the defensive end, and who’s going to be that guy, he’s been challenged. … Yes, we did (invest in him). For good reason. He has the ability, the last few years as a young player he’s gotten a little bit better as we’ve gone, but he’s one of those guys, that looking at KCP and Alex not being here, can you step up and fill into that role of guarding some of the other best players.”
The key to Horton-Tucker becoming a consistent player on the Lakers is playing strong defense. The team has plenty of scoring options but lost a lot of defense this offseason. When he gets back, the hope will be that he can finally show off some defensive improvements.