The NBA trade season is heating up, and things could get wild with just two months to go before the deadline on Feb. 8.
Now that 81 more players are eligible to be traded today, deals are likely to happen now more than ever in this current season.
Among the players that could be dealt is Utah Jazz point guard Talen Horton-Tucker, who is listed on Sam Vecenie’s trade board. Horton-Tucker is listed at No. 15 on Vecenie’s list and the Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards are named as the “best fits” for the Jazz guard.
Horton-Tucker is an interesting player on this list. He’s on an expiring contract, and any team that wants to acquire him could look to extend him if it wants to continue his development.
Still just 23 years old, Horton-Tucker is in his fifth season after being the youngest player in the league as a rookie. He showed some occasional flashes in his first two years with the Lakers but has essentially plateaued in the ensuing seasons. He struggles to play without the ball in his hands but isn’t a good enough scorer or decision-maker to consistently run an offense. He’s capable of playing in ball screens and getting to his spots, but he’s not an effective shooter and has long been turnover prone. I think his passing and playmaking has been a bit better this year, but his scoring efficiency has fallen off a cliff due to faulty in-between shooting percentages. Having said that, he possesses some real defensive tools that his next team could build on.
I don’t expect Horton-Tucker’s next deal to be as expensive as his current one. Could an enterprising team trade for him with the intension of extending his contract at a reasonable number just before he hits his mid-20s? Could Utah decide to do that? The Jazz could go myriad ways at this deadline, and Horton-Tucker’s deal represents some flexibility for them.
Horton-Tucker is averaging 10.4 points and 4.2 assists per game so far this season. If he’s traded to the Blazers, it would likely mean the end of Malcolm Brogdon’s tenure with the team, but it would also give Portland an option for a backup point guard going into next year.
The Blazers could essentially give Horton-Tucker a two-month trial, and if the fit works, the two sides can talk about a new contract. If not, they can move on and find better fits for what they are looking for.