After a terrible 2021-22 season, the Los Angeles Lakers really needed to make changes. They just made a big one by trading Talen Horton-Tucker to the Utah Jazz for Patrick Beverley. Stanley Johnson is also going to Utah.
Keep in mind that the Lakers were the oldest team last season, and they certainly played like it and wanted to get younger. With this Beverley deal, the Lakers traded away a promising 21-year-old wingman and a 26-year-old forward for a 34-year-old defensive specialist who has been one of the more abrasive personalities in the league over the past years.
How's that for irony, eh?
Is this the Lakers' big move this offseason? Surely not, right? This THT-Beverley deal alone won't really move the needle for LeBron James & Co, even if Beverley can help this team. It certainly doesn't enable them to compete with the defending champion Golden State Warriors on even footing.
Take note that these Lakers are trying to milk everything they've got as long as James is still with the team. In their minds, they've got to win at least one more title, especially with James agreeing to a new deal that all but guaranteed his future with the organization.
Perhaps they liked Patrick Beverley's winning and no-nonsense mentality in addition to his tenacious defense? He'll certainly irritate the Lakers' opponents, if not at least some of his own teammates.
As for the Jazz, well, let's see how well they did below.
Jazz-Lakers Trade Grades
It's a bit surprising to see the Jazz take action without obtaining any draft assets in return. At just 21 years old, however, Horton-Tucker could perhaps be considered a young building block in the same vein as a draft pickup. He has the skill set and the potential to impact the Jazz, especially on the offensive end.
As for losing Beverley, one may argue the Jazz didn't technically lose anything. Beverley was part of the Rudy Gobert trade and was never expected to stick around in Utah.
Acquiring Horton-Tucker, meanwhile, calls for the Jazz to return to their roots as a talent development squad. With Donovan Mitchell potentially following Gobert out the door, there should be plenty of opportunity for THT to develop under new head coach Will Hardy.
Talen Horton-Tucker: This guy can hoop 🔥 pic.twitter.com/NthPRWzPQ1
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 11, 2021
Horton-Tucker is a stout wing with a strong upper body who can handle the ball well, but he must work on his outside shot in order to make the most of his potential. He also has to keep improving his fundamentals. THT could learn from the likes of Mike Conley Jr. and Jordan Clarkson while in Utah, if those players stick around. He could be a good rotation piece for this squad moving forward, though they could also use him in another possible deal at some point down the road.
This wasn't really an upgrade for the Jazz. They basically acquired youth and potential, with Johnson as a decent throw-in thanks to his defensive ability.
Los Angeles Lakers
First and foremost, it's objectively funny to have Westbrook and Beverley on the same squad. They have long had animosity toward one another. Their animosity is so intense that it has persisted over such a long period of time. Fans should expect some awkward exchanges between these two on the court and possibly on social media as well … if Westbrook is actually still on the Lakers.
Russell Westbrook 🤝 Patrick Beverley
Companheiros de time 🙂 pic.twitter.com/BMIC6mN5Iy
— Camisa 23 | NBA (@camisa_23) August 25, 2022
The assumption is the Lakers are still pushing to trade Westbrook, even if Kyrie Irving is no longer on the table. The Indiana Pacers are a popular potential destination, with Buddy Hield and Myles Turner viewed as the targets.
But back to this Beverley trade. Beverley adds great value to the Lakers. Although Horton-Tucker was a promising wing for them, his lack of consistency, awful jumper and need for the ball in his hands made him a poor fit. After he signed a three-year agreement worth more than $30 million, things just didn't go well.
Beverley, on the other hand, is considerably more reliable in a supporting role. In Minnesota, he had a decline in his shooting, but over the previous six seasons, he averaged just over four attempts per game while shooting 39.3 percent from outside the arc. On a strong sample size, that clip is pretty good.
Beverley also isn't the kind of guard who can beat a defender off the dribble and find others. Still, for a majority of the time, he makes smart, straightforward, and team-oriented decisions. Westbrook is definitely not a believer of Beverley's reputation as an elite defender, but the latter can surely guard a variety of positions. In fact, he has been named to the All-Defensive Team thrice in his career.
Westbrook, Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV, and maybe Kendrick Nunn are the Lakers' primary guard rotation players, at least for now. Beverley's inclusion is a significant improvement for them in that regard. It's a little risky to give up on Horton-Tucker while he is still so young, but the Lakers need to win now and are done waiting on him.
This is an interesting move that has some real short-term value for the Lakers, but it also doesn't make them an instant title contender. We'll see what they have in store next.