NBA free agency 2021: Lakers to re-sign Talen Horton-Tucker to three-year, $32 million deal, per report


The Los Angeles Lakers are re-signing young guard Talen Horton-Tucker to a three-year, $32 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Horton-Tucker was a restricted free agent, meaning the Lakers had the right to match any offer made to him. That presumably scared off opposing teams, as Horton-Tucker was not given an offer sheet. He is signing a straight deal with the Lakers rather than forcing them to match one he signed elsewhere. 

The Lakers have extremely high expectations for Horton-Tucker moving forward. At the trade deadline, he was reportedly the hangup in trade talks for Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry. With an enormous tax bill looming, the Lakers ultimately decided to re-sign Horton-Tucker to this deal rather than pay a similar price to retain fan-favorite Alex Caruso.

That decision was grounded in their long-term faith in Horton-Tucker’s upside. Caruso is the superior player at this moment. He was an All-Defense candidate last season and he shot over 40 percent from behind the arc. Horton-Tucker has enormous potential as a defender thanks to his athleticism and 7-1 wingspan, but he hasn’t realized that potential to nearly the degree that Caruso has. Horton-Tucker shot only 28.2 percent on 3-pointers last season, a mark that has to improve if he is going to fit alongside Russell Westbrook

But Horton-Tucker has flashed rare gifts as a ball-handler. Few young players in basketball get to the rim as easily as he does. The Lakers believe he can grow into a valuable all-around scorer that sacrifices nothing on the defensive end. This contract is a reflection of that belief. Horton-Tucker hasn’t done enough yet to warrant a contract that pays him more annually than Caruso, a key role player on the 2020 championship team, earned this offseason. But if he realizes his potential, the Lakers think he can grow into a better overall player down the line. 

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