Talen Horton-Tucker didn’t talk with L.A. before draft but met LeBron James, Anthony Davis
With Magic Johnson happily tweeting his most mundane NBA thoughts, it makes sense why no one’s still sure who’s calling the shots for the Los Angeles Lakers. Rob Pelinka is general manager and the supposed chief decision-maker behind Los Angeles’ personnel moves, but it also bears reminding that the team never found a replacement for Johnson as president of basketball operations. Kurt Rambis remains an omnipresent figure in the Lakers’ air, and his wife, Linda, apparently has even more influence on owner Jeanie Buss than he does.
Either way, it shouldn’t be surprising that Talen Horton-Tucker never talked with the Lakers before they traded back into the 2019 NBA Draft and took him at No. 46 overall. The Iowa State product, like several other players, took an unexpected slide down the draft board on Thursday. If Los Angeles thought it had a chance to snap Horton-Tucker up with a mid second-round pick, it surely would have brought him in for a workout.
But less surprising, and perhaps indicative of a more collaborate decision-making process for the Lakers, is that LeBron James and Anthony Davis actually had met Horton-Tucker before the draft.
Talen Horton-Tucker says he did not work out for Lakers and did not meet with them at Combine. He has, however, met a couple other players represented by Klutch Sports: LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) June 21, 2019
James, remember, has a history of his personal preference for certain draft prospects weighing heavily into his team’s ultimate choice, most famously when the Miami Heat reached for Shabazz Napier in 2014 only to see the three-time MVP leave in free agency.
There’s no tangible reason to believe that’s what happened here. Horton-Tucker, based on pre-draft status alone even and before accounting for his entirely unique playing style, could be one of the draft’s biggest steals. But Lakers dysfunction always looms in the back of your mind, and James, frankly, should have some say in what Los Angeles does to fill out the roster around he and Davis – whether or not he did here.