Lakers May Need to Reverse Thinking on Talen Horton-Tucker to Land Jerami Grant, Bolster LeBron James’ Supporting Cast

After a busy offseason sparked much championship optimism, the Los Angeles Lakers have fallen well short of looking the part. The Lakers are floundering in the Western Conference standings despite LeBron James still playing at an incredible level. All of which could lead the franchise toward trying to change their stance on Talen Horton-Tucker to acquire Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant.

LeBron James’ dominance can’t mask Lakers’ shortcomings

The Lakers entered the 2021-22 campaign with lofty expectations of vying for an NBA title.

However, Los Angeles has looked anything but a championship contender, especially after a five-game skid dropped them to a 16-18 record. Beyond LeBron James’ brilliance, averaging a team-best 27.4 points, the team’s lacked consistency on both ends of the floor.

These issues have only compounded with Anthony Davis set to miss a month due to an MCL sprain in his left knee. All those factors may send the Lakers desperately barrelling into the trade market.

Lakers may need to reverse thinking on Talen Horton-Tucker to land Jerami Grant, bolster LeBron James’ supporting cast

The Lakers’ continued struggles have pushed the trade talk into the picture as a potential jumpstart fix.

Pistons swingman Jerami Grant remains a prominent name linked as a target. During a recent episode of The Brian Windhorst & Hoop Collective podcast, longtime ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst voiced that the Lakers possess a feasible trade package to land the 27-year-old.

“Here’s an example of an option,” Windhorst said via Lakers Daily. “So, the Lakers have been rumored to have interest in Jerami Grant, and I think that the Pistons, who are in the middle of a rebuild and not going anywhere this season…I think they might listen on Jeremi Grant.

“So, if you could get a player like Jerami Grant, now that would take probably [Talen] Horton-Tucker and maybe that ’27 first and maybe Kendrick Nunn to make the money work. Is that the type of trade, Bobby, that you would consider if you were the Lakers because that’s a guy who could help you more?”

Over the last couple of years, the Lakers have remained reluctant to move Talen Horton-Tucker due to his potential. The 21-year-old has shown flashes of promise as a two-way factor. His length lends well defensively to defend several positions and clog up passing lanes. It’s also helped him effectively get to the rim off the dribble, while he’s a solid ball-handler behind his keen passing and court vision.

Several teams have reportedly shown interest in him. Last season, the Lakers squashed a trade for Kyle Lowry by keeping Horton-Tucker out of any offer. Los Angeles elected to re-sign him to a three-year, $30.7 million deal.

The Lakers could couple Horton-Tucker’s $9.5 million salary and Kendrick Nunn’s $5 million to close the gap to nearly match Grant’s $20 million salary. It may all come down to the Lakers’ willingness to part with the third-year guard as he holds a promising future ahead.

If the team wants to maximize James’ remaining NBA title window, Horton-Tucker may soon be on the move.

Lakers may choose to play the long game with their current roster

Injuries and COVID-19 related issues have played a significant role in the Lakers’ shortcomings, but it’s reached a point where the team may have to look themselves in the mirror.

When healthy, Los Angeles possesses a deep roster with plenty of versatility. However, they haven’t had an opportunity to utilize it.

James is still performing at an elite level, and the Lakers want to take advantage of that window. Davis’ absence, coupled with the COVID-19 issues, certainly hasn’t helped the lack of on-court cohesion. It’s especially been the case defensively, ranking 27th allowing 112.3 points per contest.

Regardless of what the Lakers do, James will continue to shoulder the bulk of the load. Meanwhile, the hope remains that Russell Westbrook can firmly find his footing as the third option, while the roster versatility becomes a game-changing factor.

Time will tell if the Lakers can ever reach that point, but if the struggles continue, expect changes to come.

Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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