The Los Angeles Lakers are boosting their defense by reportedly acquiring Patrick Beverley from the Utah Jazz.
Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers will send Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson to Utah in exchange for Beverley.
This marks the second time in the offseason that Beverley has been dealt. He was originally acquired by the Jazz from the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of the Rudy Gobert trade.
After LeBron James signed a two-year, $97.1 million extension last week, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka knew he could move forward with mortgaging some of the team's long-term future in an attempt to win now.
The deal adds a small amount to the Lakers' salary cap next season. Beverley is owed $13 million in 2022-23. Horton-Tucker and Johnson will earn a combined $12.61 million.
Per Spotrac, the Lakers' active cap going into next season is at $166.1 million and they are $59.8 million over the cap. They rank seventh in the NBA in both categories.
Updated Lakers' Roster
PG: Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley
SG: Lonnie Walker IV, Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves
SF: LeBron James, Troy Brown Jr.
PF: Anthony Davis, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Wenyen Gabriel
C: Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones, Jay Huff
Italics indicates projected starter
Adding Beverley certainly makes for a potentially interesting dynamic with Russell Westbrook. Those two don't seem to have warm feelings for each other, based on comments both have made throughout their careers.
“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."<br><br>Russell Westbrook on <a href="https://twitter.com/patbev21?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@patbev21</a> after Harden scored 47 in a win vs the Clippers. <br><br>(Via <a href="https://twitter.com/MarkBermanFox26?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MarkBermanFox26</a>) <a href="https://t.co/H1lsQzK1dW">pic.twitter.com/H1lsQzK1dW</a>
Westbrook's assessment of Beverley's defense doesn't hold up from a statistical perspective over the past five seasons.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Patrick Beverley will look to add to a Lakers team that struggled on defense last season, ranking 21st in defensive efficiency.<br><br>Over the last 5 seasons, Beverley has allowed the 2nd-lowest FG pct as the closest defender among players with 2,000 shots defended over that span. <a href="https://t.co/b2C07eBQh0">https://t.co/b2C07eBQh0</a> <a href="https://t.co/SqOnnVZ2xj">pic.twitter.com/SqOnnVZ2xj</a>
While there's still the possibility the Lakers can find a team to take on Westbrook's contract in a trade, there is no doubt Beverley absolutely makes them better because of what he adds on defense.
Giving up Horton-Tucker one year after signing him to a three-year, $30 million contract is a bit risky. He's only 21 and has displayed some promise early in his career, but consistency has been an issue for him to this point.
After a promising second season that prompted the Lakers to give him that extension, Horton-Tucker made a career-low 41.6 percent of his field-goal attempts, 26.9 percent of his threes and had a negative value over replacement player (-0.5), per Basketball-Reference.com.
The 6'4", 234-pound shooting guard has been called upon frequently to enter the starting lineup in place of injured Lakers. Of note, he stepped in for LeBron James when the four-time NBA MVP suffered an abdominal strain that kept him out for eight games.
However, Horton-Tucker has been held out himself on multiple occasions. He underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb that kept him out for the first 13 games.
Horton-Tucker then played the next 15 but was sidelined for three more contests after testing positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 14.
James did show last season that he's still capable of playing at an elite level, but durability is starting to become an issue for the 37-year-old. He has missed 84 games in his first four seasons with the Lakers after missing a total of 69 games from 2003-18.
L.A. finished with a 33-49 record and missed out on the playoffs last year.
A healthy James and Davis are capable of getting the Lakers to the postseason, but what they can do if they get there playing in a loaded Western Conference remains to be seen.
Beverley isn't a third superstar who can ease the burden on that duo. He's a solid veteran who does a lot of the grunt work, especially on defense, and gives the Lakers the type of attitude and swagger that was missing in 2021-22.