The Los Angeles Lakers traded away rising guard Talent Horton-Tucker this offseason and it appears the young guard is still harboring some hard feelings over the deal.
The Lakers sent Horton-Tucker to the Jazz in August as part of a trade that brought veteran guard Patrick Beverley to Los Angeles. Horton-Tucker joked with Lakers reporter Kyle Goon of Orange County Register about getting a tribute video for his first return to Crypto.com Arena.
“Think so?” Horton-Tucker told Goon. “I didn’t think so since they traded me.”
That’s not to say Horton-Tucker didn’t appreciate his time with the Lakers. He won a championship in 2020 and was able to learn from LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“Just being able to be around great players, just coming into the league with an understanding of how to work hard, how to become a star in the NBA,” he said of his time with the Lakers. “Being able to be around them guys, I appreciate it. I appreciate (the Lakers), too. Just welcoming me with open arms, even Bron texts me to this day, wishing me luck and stuff like that.”
Horton-Tucker Helping Jazz Exceed Expectations
The move involving Horton-Tucker was a bit stunning. He was once looked at as a key piece of their future and was signed to a multi-year extension in 2021 worth more than $30 million.
The Lakers also refused to deal him the year prior in a trade that would have brought back veteran guard Kyle Lowry, which looking back now would have radically altered the team’s outlook.
Instead, Lowry went to the Heat, the Lakers were bounced in the first round of the playoffs and LA made a blockbuster deal for Russell Westbrook in the offseason.
Horton-Tucker is still just 21 years old and has a potentially long NBA career in front of him. He’s averaging 16.4 minutes per game with the Jazz, putting up seven points, three rebounds and 1.6 assists through nine games. Utah is 6-3, which puts them third in the Western Conference and exceeding expectations after trading away two all-stars this offseason in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
“I feel like guys are hungry to prove they’re good,” Horton-Tucker said. “And I feel like we know that we’re good. We got NBA players. So we feel like we can compete with pretty much anybody. So being able to have a team like that, to have an attitude coming into games adds to everything else.”
Lakers Feel Like Things Are Starting to Come Together
The Lakers started the season on a five-game skid but have won their last two, the latest an overtime victory against Zion Williamson and the Pelicans.
“We know our defense is doing their job,” Davis said after the win. “We just need our offense to catch up. It’s starting to click. We’re starting to find things, find rotations, find situations where we’re really good. And guys are staying ready, coming in, playing well. We’re starting to put everything together.”
What has benefited the Lakers is moving Westbrook to the bench. The former was averaging 10.3 points on 28.9% shooting to go with 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists. In a reserve role over the last three games, Westbrook is averaging 16.3 points on 46.2% shooting, 7.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists.