While the Los Angeles Lakers face an uphill battle to strengthen their roster this summer, Talen Horton-Tucker could prove to be key to the franchise’s offseason efforts.
Besides using the partial mid-level exception, L.A. will likely only be able to offer minimum contracts to free agents this year. That’s because the Purple and Gold have three players on the roster that are signed to max contracts following Russell Westbrook’s decision to pick up his $47.1 million player option for 2022-23, which combined account for over 70% of the franchise’s cap space.
But the Lakers can also try to acquire new players via trade. That’s when Horton-Tucker’s three-year, $31 million contract comes in handy, as it appears to be the most-easily tradable asset the Purple and Gold have at their disposal. Should the franchise decide to part ways with Horton-Tucker, L.A. Times writers Dan Woike and Broderick Turner report the Lakers might try to bring in Chicago Bulls guard Coby White in exchange:
The Lakers could also look to acquire players via trade, with rival executives believing Chicago’s Coby White could be a target. Moving Talen Horton-Tucker, a player whose ball-dominant skills are viewed by rival scouts as being redundant with the Lakers’ stars, could be a way to upgrade to suit the Lakers’ needs.
White has made progress on the defensive end in three years with the Bulls. The 6-foot-5 guard has also emerged as a great scoring option for Chicago, averaging 12.7 points off the bench and shooting 38.5% from downtown last season.
Since the Lakers seem to prioritize signing 3-and-D-type of players this summer, White could be an option worth considering.
Lakers’ free agency goals might cost them Malik Monk
The Lakers’ pursuit of two-way wings has its downside, as it might make them unable to re-sign Malik Monk. Reports claim L.A. will try to use the $6.5 million taxpayer mid-level exception to bring in a 3-and-D wing who could start next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Although Monk has reiterated his willingness to return to L.A. for less money than other teams offer, it’s unlikely he would pen another minimum contract after his breakout season — which is what the Purple and Gold could only offer him besides the taxpayer exception if they want to avoid hitting the hard cap.
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