The Lakers are shaking things up at point guard. While the Russell Westbrook–Kyrie Irving rumors are seemingly on hold, Los Angeles decided to beef up its backcourt, acquiring veteran guard Patrick Beverley from the Jazz in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson. Beverley is on his third team this offseason after previously being traded to Utah in the Rudy Gobert deal. THT signed a three-year deal last summer that includes a player option for next season. Johnson, 26, is a lottery pick who initially joined the Lakers on a 10-day contract last December. Let’s grade the move for both sides.
Beverley is a solid player who slots in nicely alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. His defensive tenacity will be welcome on a team that lacked it last season, and he shoots well enough on open threes to play off superstars. While Beverley’s reputation at times can exceed his effectiveness, his value increases as the caliber of headliners he plays with does. With LeBron on most of the ballhandling duties, Beverley can slide into his ideal role: chasing around backcourt stars defensively while only being responsible for spacing the floor on the other end. After the debacle that was the Lakers’ defense in 2022, this acquisition immediately improves the team.
However, the grade for this deal takes a hit because of what preceded it. The Lakers had a better version of Pat Bev in Alex Caruso. They chose to let Caruso walk in favor of THT, who couldn’t live up to the potential the front office saw in him. L.A. could have both Caruso and Beverley right now; instead they have only the latter as he enters his age-34 season. On one hand, the Lakers deserve credit for not being stubborn, cutting their losses and finding an impact veteran who can help the team in the playoffs. (Beverley may even be their most impactful move of the summer so far.) Still, while the trade is solid, it serves as a reminder of LA’s previous mismanagement. (It also raises more questions about Westbrook’s future with the team, considering his frosty relationship with Beverley.)
Utah can basically take fliers on whoever it wants right now as it enters a rebuild. Horton-Tucker was miscast on a Lakers team with championship hopes, not really fitting as a tertiary ballhandler with James and Westbrook. He may never turn into an All-Star, but THT will have more organic opportunities for growth on his new team. If the Jazz end up trading Donovan Mitchell, there will be ample chance for Horton-Tucker to soak up possessions on the perimeter and find his footing in an NBA rotation.
Johnson had a nice run with L.A. last season after first joining the team as a COVID-19 replacement player. It would be surprising to me if he finishes the season with the Jazz as opposed to eventually latching on to a contender somehow. If not, Utah can at least use him to throw at perimeter scorers.
More NBA Coverage: