B/R suggests that the Lakers use Talen Horton-Tucker as trade bait

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 15: Talen Horton-Tucker #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after a play during the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on November 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 15: Talen Horton-Tucker #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after a play during the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on November 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /
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The Los Angeles Lakers is a team that is full of veterans, most of which are playing on one-year deals to help chase a ring this season. The veterans who are on the team and not playing on a one-year deal are the big three consisting of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.

While the team has a promising undrafted rookie in Austin Reaves, the young player with the most potential is Talen Horton-Tucker. While Reaves has been solid thus far, THT is the only young player right now that has enough potential to be considered a future impact, potentially all-star, player.

The Lakers saw that in him when they traded into the second round to draft him in 2019 and when they gave him a three-year, $30.7 million contract this offseason before he even turned 21. Horton-Tucker is special and the hope in LA is that he sticks around and realizes that potential in the purple and gold.

Some don’t think he will, though. Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report put together a “keep or swap” with each team’s most tradeable player. THT, because of his youth, was listed as the Lakers’ most tradeable player and Swartz verdict was pretty surprising…

“Keep Horton-Tucker and see how he fits with the Big Three; use as trade bait later if necessary.” 

We kind of already know that he fits with the big three as he plays great defense, can help facilitate the basketball and is coming around as a scorer. Regardless of what he means by “fit” one thing is certain…

Talen Horton-Tucker is untouchable on the Los Angeles Lakers.

There are two main reasons for this. First is the simple fact that THT is the only young player with a high ceiling of potential, as mentioned already. The Lakers let Alex Caruso walk away so they could re-sign THT (they could have re-signed both but only wanted to re-sign one for tax reasons).

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The Lakers believe in THT and what he can offer the team in the future. Heck, the Lakers reportedly didn’t trade for Kyle Lowry last season because the Raptors wanted THT in the deal. Not only would they have gotten Lowry last season but they probably would have been able to re-sign him and he would be a Laker instead of Russell Westbrook.

That is how valuable THT is to the Lakers.

The second reason is the potential market if the Lakers were to trade THT. If there was a superstar on the market that the Lakers could lure with THT then we could at least have a conversation. That is not possible, though. There is not even a conversation to be had.

Even if a superstar like Damian Lillard was on the market the Lakers would not be able to trade for him. The money would not work as the Lakers would have to string together multiple contracts and a slew of draft picks, just as they did when they traded for Anthony Davis.

THT alone is not going to get much in return because of his contract. The Lakers would be getting another player who makes around the same in return and at that point, they would not even really be adding anything to the team. THT is already a solid rotation player and is just as valuable as any other $10 million rotation player.

The team has no other contracts nor assets to attach to THT to try and swing for the fences because they are paying Russell Westbrook $91 million over this season and next. THT will never be used at trade bait even if he does have trade value.

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But hey, the Los Angeles Lakers have made sillier moves in the past, so maybe they do end up doing the completely wrong thing and use him Talen Horton-Tucker as trade bait.