Just when we thought it was safe to go out to dinner and have some drinks on a Wednesday night now that Kevin Durant has decided to stay in Brooklyn, the NBA hits us with a trade. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Wednesday that the Los Angeles Lakers are trading Talen Horton-Tucker to the Utah Jazz in exchange for veteran guard Patrick Beverley.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 25, 2022
Forward Stanley Johnson is also on the move from the Lakers to the Jazz, league sources told The Athletic’s Tony Jones.
The Lakers are desperate for some veterans who can energize the rotation, do the little things and help them win some games. The Jazz are jettisoning a veteran received in the Rudy Gobert trade so they can develop a wing player whom LeBron James has openly praised. How does this affect the outlook for both teams? Let’s bust out the red pen and throw some grades down for each team.
Los Angeles Lakers acquire Beverley
First and foremost, putting Beverley and Russell Westbrook on the same team is objectively hilarious. Westbrook and Beverley have a long history of hating each other. Do you know how much fire has to be behind that hatred for it to last years and years, no matter which team you’re on and which team the other guy is on, especially when you face each other only a handful of times each season? Assuming Westbrook is still with the team at the start of the season, we’re going to see some awkward interactions between these two on the court, and someone’s act isn’t going to vibe with the other.
“Pat Bev trick y’all man, like he play defense. He don’t guard nobody man. He just running around doing nothing. As you seen what happened. 47.”
Russell Westbrook on @patbev21 after Harden scored 47 in a win vs the Clippers.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 14, 2019
As for the basketball part of this, Beverley helps the Lakers quite a bit. Horton-Tucker was a nice wing for them, but his role and consistency were constantly in flux. They gave him a bigger opportunity last season, and it didn’t go well. Then again, nothing went well for the Lakers last season, so it’s not fair to just focus on Horton-Tucker. He couldn’t make shots, and we saw a dip in his playmaking on that team. It just didn’t go great after he signed a three-year deal for over $30 million.
Beverley is much more reliable as a role player. He saw a dip in his shooting last season in Minnesota, but the previous six seasons had him shooting 39.3 percent from deep on just over four attempts per game. That’s a good clip on a solid sample size. Beverley isn’t the type of guard to break down a defender off the dribble and create for others, but he makes smart, simple plays with the ball most of the time. He can guard multiple positions, and he’s a three-time All-Defensive selection, even if Westbrook has accused Beverley of tricking the media that he’s a good defender.
The Lakers’ guard rotation features Westbrook, Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV and maybe Kendrick Nunn as the main guys. Adding Beverley to the mix is a massive upgrade for them in that respect, but the chemistry gets a lot thinner for a team on shaky ground in that department. Also, giving up on Horton-Tucker before his 22nd birthday is a bit of a risk. The Lakers had high hopes and expectations for him. They invested in him with time and a lot of money. They even refused to include him in a trade last year for Kyle Lowry at the deadline.
Utah Jazz acquire Horton-Tucker, Johnson
It’s a little shocking to see the Jazz do something that doesn’t involve getting back a draft pick. They’re hoping Horton-Tucker is still young enough and with enough potential to feel like they’re getting a draft pick here. Beverley isn’t much of a loss for them because he’s been there for only a few weeks after the Gobert trade haul. He was never expected to stay in Utah long-term, so getting him out before training camp is even within sight makes a ton of sense.
As for Horton-Tucker, the Jazz need to get back to their roots as a talent-developing organization. We’ll see how that goes under the Danny Ainge-Will Hardy regime in Salt Lake City. Player development was something the Jazz were lauded for under Quin Snyder and his coaching staff. They still have some important holdovers from the Snyder coaching staff. Horton-Tucker is a good-sized wing with long arms and some talent with the ball. But his shot is suspect, and he needs to keep learning the basics from a lot of reps. If last season is any indication of what to expect, he needs better players around him to succeed. Just throwing him out there on an openly bad team might not yield productive results.
The potential is there, though, for him to become a nice rotation player for Utah — or for the Jazz to flip at a future trade deadline.
(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today)