For the Los Angeles Lakers, it is the moves the team did not make at the NBA trade deadline that continue to be a topic of conversation. The Lakers were linked to a trade with the Raptors for six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry, but the team did not want to give up swingman Talen Horton-Tucker as part of the deal. During a recent episode of The Bill Simmons podcast, former NBA player Raja Bell and Simmons discussed the potential deal and criticized the Lakers for not pulling the trigger.
“It did seem like they made a real kicked-the-tires effort at Lowry,” Simmons explained. “Which I had been hearing for the couple days leading up [to the trade deadline], and Schröder was in the trade and maybe they didn’t want to give up Talen Horton-Tucker, a lot of people reported that as part of it. It would have been Schröder, KCP, Talen Horton-Tucker. I personally would have done it.”
The Athletic’s Jovan Buha and Bill Oram provided a more detailed look at the Lakers’ offer for Lowry. Los Angeles was willing to include Dennis Schröder given his lack of a long-term deal, but Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka was unwilling to part with Horton-Tucker.
“Multiple sources told The Athletic that the Lakers and Raptors discussed a trade that would have sent both members of Los Angeles’ starting backcourt, Dennis Schröder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and likely some draft compensation to Toronto for Lowry,” Buha and Oram detailed. “Throughout Thursday morning, sources said, the sticking point was the inclusion of Talen Horton-Tucker. The same sources said that, Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations, insisted that price was too high for the 35-year-old Lowry, and that he was not willing to trade Horton-Tucker, the 20-year-old combo guard who has emerged as a valuable rotation player for the Lakers in his second season.”
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Simmons on Schröder: ‘I Do Think Teams Are Going to Leave Him Open in the Playoffs’
Bell appeared puzzled as to why Horton-Tucker was the holdup in a potential deal for Lowry. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported the Raptors were pushing for Horton-Tucker from the Lakers, or the Heat to include Tyler Herro to make a trade work for Lowry.
“It was hard for me, look, I’m a Talen Horton-Tucker, I can’t say that I’m a fan, but I realize he’s a good player,” Bell explained. “Is he that good, Bill? You’re going to have to hip me to this. Like, is that something that would crumble a deal for you with Kyle Lowry?”
Simmons again noted he would have been willing to trade Horton-Tucker as part of a deal for Lowry. He went on to praise Schröder’s fit with the Lakers but expressed concern about his long-range shooting. Lowry is shooting better than 39% from behind the 3-point arc this season.
“No, I would have done it,” Simmons answered. “The thing with Schröder is he’s still not shooting 3s that well. He’s like 31% this year. I do like how he’s playing. I do think he has the kind of personality that fits with LeBron, and he makes sense to me as a crunch-time guy for them. But I do think teams are going to leave him open in the playoffs, and if it’s a case of I can have LeBron and A.D. beat me or I’m going to let Schröder and KCP, like go ahead, knock yourself out, guys.”
Schröder & Horton-Tucker Are Both Heading Into Free Agency This Offseason
Instead, the Lakers will be dealing with Schröder and Horton-Tucker hitting free agency. Windhorst reported Schröder turned down a four-year, $84 million extension, the max the Lakers can currently offer the point guard.
Horton-Tucker is a restricted free agent giving the Lakers an opportunity to match any offer. Windhorst projects Horton-Tucker to earn a deal in the four-year, $60 million range, a sign that teams are willing to pay the guard for his potential even if he has a limited sample size.
“He’s a gifted defender with great length and great upside who’s just 20 years old,” an NBA executive told ESPN. “In this market, that’s exactly the type of player you want to chase. There could be a few teams who put them to the test and give [Horton-Tucker] an offer sheet thinking they could pry him away.”