In completing the Rui Hachimura trade, the Los Angeles Lakers are making a long-awaited upgrade to their wing — both this season and the future.
After months of mulling over a possible fit and deal, the Lakers made a reasonable splash on Hachimura, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, frustrated by his lack of contract extension and reduced role with the Washington Wizards this offseason. , confirmed by league sources Athletic. The Lakers sent Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to Washington, the teams announced Monday.
According to league sources, a deal between the Lakers and the Wizards has been discussed for several days, with the draft compensation being a key issue in the deal. Athletic Last week, it was reported that Washington was exploring potential trade destinations for Hachimura.
The soon-to-be 25-year-old Hachimura has the size (6-foot-8, 230 pounds), length (7-foot-2 wingspan) and athleticism needed in the Lakers’ frontcourt. His ability to play either forward position helps balance the team’s positional structure. It’s unclear whether Hachimura will start on Day 1, but the expectation is that he will start alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis once the rotation is complete, according to multiple team sources. Athletic.
Hachimura’s acquisition does not preclude the Lakers from making another trade before Feb. 9. They’re armed with two first-round picks (2027, ’29) and three players (Patrick Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV, Russell Westbrook) over the next two weeks. ) they can use as matching salaries when updating the list.
With Davis expected to return soon, the Lakers are still evaluating their schedule and rotation and deciding whether to make minor or major upgrades to their tradable draft assets. At this point, their most likely move is to upgrade Beverley and their lottery-protected first-round pick to another wing or frontcourt. But the Lakers are willing to consider adding more capital to get a better player depending on Davis’ recovery and the market conditions as the deadline nears.
Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanovic remains the name most linked to the Lakers in league circles, but the Pistons are at least looking to trade an unprotected first-round pick, according to league sources. The Lakers would prefer to waive the lottery-protected pick for the 34-year-old Bogdanovic, but that could change before the trade deadline.
Whatever happens next, the Hachimura trade is an undisputed win for Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office.
The Lakers would reduce their backcourt bottleneck by shedding their least productive point guard for the paltry price of three second-round picks, one of which they already own (2028). In turn, they’ve gotten younger, bigger, longer, more athletic, and more talented at taking down Hachimura, who they can keep for multiple seasons. They’re 22-25 this season, but have gone 10-9 with Davis and shown a willingness to take on more money as a team that has shown its potential — their luxury tax bill increased by nearly $3 million after the deal. right leg injury.
Inside, Los Angeles is high on Hachimura and believes he’s underutilized because he hasn’t been able to play with the Wizards since prioritizing Kyle Kuzma and Deny Avdija. The Lakers are interested in retaining Hachimura and are currently considering re-signing the restricted free agent this offseason, according to league sources. Athletic. According to those sources, Hachimura is expected to earn a double-digit annual salary, but far less than his nearly $19 million salary.
In 30 games this season, Hachimura is averaging 13.0 points on 55.8 percent shooting, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game (he missed 16 games earlier this season with a sprained right ankle). The Japan native shot 33.7 percent from 3-point range, below league average, but made 44.7 percent and 47.0 percent from 3-point range last season. That means he can shoot better in Los Angeles with James, Davis and Westbrook.
Hachimura is good in most defensive metrics, ranging from an above-average defender (plus-0.3 in defensive RAPTOR) to a good defender (plus-0.9 in defensive EPM). This video shows a talented and physically gifted defender who can improve his effort, consistency and awareness. Lakers head coach Darwin is optimistic that playing alongside veterans like Davis, James, Westbrook and Beverley in Hamm’s system will help Hachimura showcase his unrealized defensive potential.
Hachimura has never played more than 57 games in an NBA season, so durability is a bit of a concern. Although that number has been skewed somewhat since Hachimura missed the first 39 games of the season last season at the Wizards’ benevolence. take care of his mental health.
At the very least, Hachimura’s arrival and Nunn’s release will help reduce the number of three-guards the Lakers use and help them play against teams that have the glass and multiple wing shooters. The Lakers have had the upper hand in most games this season.
After the Memphis Grizzlies gave up 39 points, their second-most in 25 years, James pointed out that they didn’t have a 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 player. Grizzlies. It’s not the first time he’s voiced his displeasure with the length and size of the roster this season.
“I think we’re playing three or four right now,” James said.
The Lakers have found chemistry with their current starting lineup of Thomas Bryant, James, Troy Brown Jr., Beverley and Dennis Schroder, but that starting five will always be there to play soon with the trio of Davis, Austin Reaves and Walker IV. be temporary.
The front line of Davis-James-Hachimura gives the Lakers a versatile trio with size, length and athleticism. They can get through most games with the best defensive player Davis Hachimura has played with in his four-year career.
Hachimura will play as the third or fourth offensive option in most lineups, but his career average of 16.9 points per 36 minutes is sixth on the list behind James, Davis, Westbrook, Schroeder and Bryant.
The Lakers’ price has been Nunn, who has been better lately, but is the odd man out when the Lakers are at full strength. With Reeves and Walker IV soon to return, the 27-year-old Nunn would be the team’s sixth guard in pencil behind Reeves, Schroeder, Walker IV, Beverley and Westbrook. He connected on just 32.5 percent of his 3s this season and struggled to make an impact and find his rhythm. Aside from Damian Jones, Nunn was the most expendable player on the Lakers’ 14-man roster.
In reality, this was as good a trade as the Lakers were going to find in exchange for Nunn and multiple second-round picks. They could find their future starter depending on how Hachimura fits, other trade activity, and how the free agent market plays out this summer.
The 12th-ranked Lakers are just one game out of 10th and two games out of sixth. With James and Davis playing like top 10 players this season, they’re clearly a potential bottom contender nobody wants to face in a seven-game series.
This move helps them get closer. While this isn’t a blockbuster deal that could put the Lakers in contention, it’s a step in the right direction for the Lakers with minimal downside.
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(Photo of LeBron James and Hachimura: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)