Lakers News: Latest on LeBron James Rumors, Talen Horton-Tucker's Debut, More
The Los Angeles Lakers haven't gotten off to the hot start for which they might have hoped. However, L.A. continues to keep its head above water without star LeBron James, who remains out with an abdominal strain.
The Lakers got a big 114-106 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday and have now won three of their last four. An 8-6 record isn't going to wow anyone, but given the injury woes L.A. has already endured, it's good enough.
Even without injuries, it was always going to take time for the roster to come together. With James sidelined, and players like Wayne Ellington and Talen Horton-Tucker injured to start the season, L.A.'s depth and resolve have both been tested. Having a winning record should be viewed as a big positive, and the Lakers may be close to having a healthy roster.
Los Angeles is set to take on the Chicago Bulls on Monday night. Let's dive into the latest buzz heading into that game.
James Likely to Return 'Soon'
James isn't likely to return against the Bulls. However, he could be back on the court in the coming days after missing each of the last six games.
"'Soon' a source close to James told ESPN when asked about James' return timetable," ESPN's Dave McMenamin wrote Monday morning.
This meshes with comments that coach Frank Vogel made on Friday regarding James' recovery.
"He's back to doing on-court basketball activity and this doesn't seem like it's going to be an extended stretch," Vogel told reporters. "He's to be considered truly day-to-day.”
The Lakers are likely to err on the side of caution when it comes to James' health, as having him available late in the year will be far more important than having him now. Still, fans should expect to see James in the lineup sooner than later.
Talen Horton-Tucker Impresses in 2021 Debut
While James is recovering and rookie Austin Reaves is out with a hamstring, Los Angeles is beginning to have some other key role players available. Ellington has been back for six games, and Horton-Tucker made his 2021 debut on Sunday.
Horton-Tucker missed the start of the season following thumb surgery. He jumped right into the starting lineup against San Antonio.
"He was great. Felt confident in starting him because I know he's been doing a lot of work on his hand injury," Vogel said, per Matt Peralta of Lakers Nation.
Horton-Tucker shined throughout the contest, finishing with 17 points and four rebounds.
"I'm impressed," Anthony Davis said, per McMenamin. "His first game and to come in and do what he did to help us win was huge and a sign of his hard work. A lot of guys usually come back and are kind of rusty, but he came in like he had been playing with us this whole time."
Plenty of focus has been placed on offseason additions like Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, but Horton-Tucker is likely to be an equally important piece of the proverbial puzzle moving forward.
Alex Caruso Didn't Get Counteroffer from LA
Point guard Alex Caruso was an important role player last season, albeit largely in a reserve role. The Lakers will get a good look at him Monday, as he's taken on a larger role with Chicago.
After averaging 21.0 minutes and 6.4 points in 2020, Caruso is averaging 28.2 minutes and 8.1 points with Chicago. The Lakers were interested in retaining Caruso in free agency but only at a certain price point.
Caruso recently revealed how far Los Angeles was willing to go.
According to The Athletic's Bill Oram, the Lakers stuck to their initial offer of three years and $21 million. After getting a four-year, $37 million offer from the Bulls, Caruso tried to get L.A. to up its bid but to no avail.
"No dollars and cents higher than that ever came back," Caruso said, per Oram. "There's no counters. It was just, I think, that was kind of all they had."
The Lakers were not willing to come off their $7 million offer annually, and that ultimately led to Caruso taking more money and a larger role with the Bulls.