Talen Horton-Tucker will be one of the underrated free agent names on this year’s market. At 20 years old, he’s as young as a lot of the draftees that will be in this year’s 2021 NBA Draft. THT essentially played his first full year of basketball this season, after the 2019-20 season was cut short due to COVID-19. He averaged 9.0 points and 2.6 assists per game this season as he heads into his restricted free agency.
These are far from max numbers, but the word is out that max is on the table. Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus got a tip from around the league:
“I’d max him out,” an Eastern Conference executive said.
Eric Pincus also explains how a max deal for Talen Horton-Tucker wouldn’t be the typical max deal you expect a player to get. This is due to the “Arenas rule”, yes, a rule named after Gilbert Arenas who had one of the worst contracts in NBA history. Pincus explains the rule and how it affects THT at length, concluding that a max four-year deal for THT would amount to $82.8 million. However, this deal would have to be severely backloaded with THT making upwards of $30 million in years three and four with only $9 million – $10 million in each of the first two years. He will be a restricted free agent, allowing the Lakers to match any offer given to him. However, would they make a deal with that much money on the backend with years of luxury taxes expected as well as Anthony Davis’ contract ending around the end of THT’s?
THT has oozing potential that intrigues everyone. He has a knack for getting to the rim and finishing at all angles. His wingspan for his size is ridiculous at 7’1. He’s only going to get better.
What do the Lakers do? Can they afford to lose him?
I say that they can’t.
The Lakers have limited resources to consider any roster overhaul. They have to retain their prioritized pieces. This includes their three biggest free agent names in Dennis Schröder, Alex Caruso, and of course, Talen Horton-Tucker. Having him back after only his second offseason with more potential for growth, he could help put the Lakers back in the hunt. They’re going to need his ball-handling skill-set as LeBron James ages. He’s also a nice complimentary piece to Anthony Davis, who is on a long deal.
Free agency is just around the corner in August. It’s sure to be a fun time for the Lakers’ front office. It’ll also mean a big payday to come for the team’s young gun. Let’s hope that payday comes from the Lakers!