Talen Horton-Tucker is without a doubt a special talent that has shown flashes on the Los Angeles Lakers. While he isn't a featured player on a team with two superstars, he is clearly a skilled young player who can shine given the opportunity. Horton-Tucker will be a free agent this upcoming offseason.
While he will be restricted in free agency, it remains to be seen whether the Los Angeles Lakers will elect to retain him if a team offers him a large contract based on his potential. With that being said, here are the best destinations for Talen Horton-Tucker in free agency.
5. Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets would be an interesting destination for Horton-Tucker, as at first glance, they have a fairly crowded guard rotation. But, talent is always welcome, and Talen Horton-Tucker could easily be a high usage player off the bench, getting a lot of touches for his development. Being a spark plug bench scorer would help him further develop his offense.
While the Charlotte Hornets were not known as an exciting destination until recently, that changed when they drafted LaMelo Ball this season, and put themselves in the picture for the playoffs. Talen Horton-Tucker next to LaMelo Ball could be the backcourt of the future, and as the veterans on the team get older, he would likely start to take over offensively.
4. Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors look like they could be headed for a rebuild in the near future. They are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and will not be making the playoffs. Franchise point guard Kyle Lowry has been linked with many franchises in free agency and could leave in order to pursue a championship. The Toronto Raptors could elect to go all-in on youth, and that would make Horton-Tucker a perfect free agency target.
While Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. would likely be the immediate backcourt, this would be a situation where Talen-Horton-Tucker would eventually take over after learning how to run the offense off the bench. There is no doubt that the Toronto Raptors' development system is good, as they have a lot of talent that they have nurtured from the G-League on their current roster. Talen Horton-Tucker would be under a solid coaching system and would get the touches he needs for his development.
3. New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are an exciting young team, and coach Thibodeau has shown that he can get good things out of talented young players such as RJ Barrett and Julius Randle. He could do the same for Talen Horton-Tucker, and if Derrick Rose stays, that would be a unique opportunity for Horton-Tucker to learn from the former MVP. There is a notable viral photo of them posing together when Horton-Tucker was a child, so perhaps this would be an opportunity for Horton-Tucker to play with a childhood hero.
Horton-Tucker notably hit a clutch shot over Derrick Rose in the recent matchup between the Knicks and the Lakers, which offers a glimpse of how clutch of a player he could become in the future. Playing with a competing team and under an experienced coach could bring out the potential in Horton-Tucker if he is given a consistent offensive role.
2. Chicago Bulls
It was rumored that the Chicago Bulls would target a point guard in the upcoming free agency, and perhaps Talen Horton-Tucker could be someone that could be an answer. Horton-Tucker has the tools to be a solid guard in this league and playing with two other All-Stars while still getting consistent touches could be good for his improvement. Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic would take some of the pressure off of him to perform, while still giving him the room to grow.
Talen Horton-Tucker is solid defensively and has some ability to create his own shot, and drive to the basket. While he does need to improve his outside jumper, he definitely has a lot of untapped potential. Perhaps the Chicago Bulls could offer him the opportunity to play for a squad where he'd be one of the featured players, as well as a roster that could potentially make the playoffs.
Talen Horton-Tucker also has a personal connection to the city of Chicago, as he was born there. Playing for a hometown team is always special, and perhaps he wants to emulate Derrick Rose in doing so.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Sometimes, there is no reason to leave a situation that could already be good. The Los Angeles Lakers may not be able to give him a lot of touches right now, but they would be able to do so once some of their free agents leave. The Lakers have 9 players hitting free agency this upcoming offseason. Alex Caruso and Dennis Schroder are among their number, meaning that guard minutes will likely be available on the Lakers. That means that Los Angeles could potentially retain Talen Horton-Tucker.
If he ends up getting enough minutes on the Los Angeles Lakers, there might be no reason for Horton-Tucker to leave. Why leave, when you're playing next to two top 10 players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and potentially have a fairly prominent role? Talen Horton-Tucker is clearly a talent that needs to be developed, and everyone in the Lakers' organization realizes that.
The Los Angeles Lakers can match any deal for Talen Horton-Tucker, and they will likely do so provided it is not something absurd. Talen Horton-Tucker could become a two-way combo guard, and on the Lakers, he would have the support and the culture to help him do so.