The Lakers will have the inside track to retain Talen Horton-Tucker, a 20-year-old bright spot at shooting guard, when free agency opens next month.
As expected, the team extended a qualifying offer to the 6-foot-4 Horton-Tucker, making him a restricted free agent. The Lakers will have the right to match any offer Horton-Tucker receives this summer, if they don’t come to an extension agreement with the Chicago native first.
Horton-Tucker averaged 9 points and 2.8 assists in his second season, shooting 45.8% from the field, 77.5% from the free-throw line but only 28.2% from 3-point range while breaking into the guard rotation just a year removed from being the No. 46 overall pick out of Iowa State in 2019. He’s the youngest member of last year’s roster, and while he developed a reputation as a dynamic driver to the basket, he might be best known as the sticking point in a potential deal the Lakers didn’t make at the trade deadline: The team reportedly opted to keep Horton-Tucker during trade talks for Toronto’s All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry.
The Lakers have many of their guards in the free agency mix, notably starting point guard Dennis Schröder, Alex Caruso and Wesley Matthews. While Horton-Tucker has exceeded expectations as a second-round draft pick, the Lakers could face a high cost to retain him if he receives an offer sheet from other teams this summer.
Horton-Tucker has drawn praise from the foundational players on…