ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins is no stranger to throwing out wild takes and controversial theories. He continued that trend this week when he offered an interesting observation on the Los Angeles Lakers and their management of young star Talen Horton-Tucker.
Perkins offered his insight on the situation in the form of a single tweet.
Lakers trying to keep Talen Horton-Tucker value down…the business side of things! Carry on…
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) January 16, 2021
Is there any validity to Perkins’ claim?
It’s tough to say.
Obviously the Lakers spent the No. 46 pick on Horton-Tucker because they saw promise there. He rewarded their confidence in the preseason, when he put up 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in his first preseason game, 33 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 assists in the second, and 18 points, five rebounds and two assists in the third.
Since then, Horton-Tucker is averaging 7.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists through 12 regular season games so far.
Casuals won’t get this but real NBA fans will recognize him immediately. https://t.co/6jNDadPphR
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 15, 2021
So is Horton-Tucker’s decrease in production a byproduct of the Lakers trying to hide him, as Perkins seems to believe? It’s hard to see how that could be the case. Far more likely is that it is simply the result of the stark difference between regular season basketball versus preseason basketball.
In the preseason, Horton-Tucker played more minutes against lesser competition, while the Lakers’ stars played less minutes and put forth less effort. In the regular season, that changes – hence the declining Horton-Tucker stats.
The Bucks owner’s daughter decided to bring 2021 in with a bang by stripping all her clothes off. https://t.co/UgzhEEna4o
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 7, 2021
Besides, what could the Lakers have to gain from reducing Horton-Tucker’s exposure? Teams already saw him ball out in the preseason. Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for LA’s front office to know one way or the other whether they have an actual stud on their hands, versus being forced to either pay him or let him walk in the offseason without any substantive data?
Horton-Tucker will become a restricted free agent this coming offseason. The growing expectation is that the Lakers will have to pony up some decent dough to retain him. Barring something crazy happening, given his talent and ties to LeBron James, the likeliest outcome is that LA pays what it needs to and keeps the youngster.