In finalizing the trade for Rui HachimuraThe Los Angeles Lakers They are making a long-awaited upgrade – for this season and for the future.
After months of deliberation on finding the right player and contract, the Lakers opportunistically took Hachimura, the 9th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Contract not extended this season and increasingly unhappy as stock drops with Washington WizardsLeague sources confirmed Athletic. The Lakers were dispatched Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to Washington, the teams announced Monday.
According to league sources, the Lakers and Wizards discussed the deal for several days. Athletic Washington said last week it was exploring possible trade options for Hachimura.
The soon-to-be 25-year-old Hachimura’s size (6-foot-8, 230 pounds), length (7-foot-2 wingspan) and athleticism are what the Lakers desperately need. His ability to play forward helps balance the roster’s positional structure. It’s unclear if Hachimura will start on Day 1, but the expectation is that he will start next. LeBron James And Anthony Davis As the cycle settles, multiple team sources said Athletic.
Hachimura’s acquisition doesn’t preclude the Lakers from making another trade before Feb. 9. They enter the next two weeks with two first-round picks (2027 and ’29) and three players (2027 and ’29).Patrick Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV And Russell Westbrook) they can use as the appropriate salary when updating the list.
With Davis expected to return soon, the Lakers are further evaluating the roster and rotation, and are still deciding whether they want to make a minor or major upgrade with tradable draft assets. At this point, trading Beverley and a lottery-protected first-rounder would most likely be their move to another division or forward development. But the Lakers are willing to consider adding more assets to acquire a better player, depending on Davis’ recovery and the state of the market approaching the deadline.
Detroits Bojan Bogdanovic He continues to be the name most often linked to the Lakers in league circles, but according to league sources, at the very least, the Pistons are looking for an unprotected first-round pick in a potential trade. The Lakers’ preference is to give up only one lottery-protected pick for the 34-year-old Bogdanovic at first, though that could change against the trade-deadline clock.
Whatever happens next, the Hachimura trade is an undeniable win for Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Belinka and the rest of the front office.
The Lakers alleviated their backcourt congestion and offset their low productivity by spending three second-round picks, one of which (2028) was traded on a pick they held in the first place. In turn, they were younger, bigger, longer, more athletic, and more adept at landing Hachimura, who could stick around for multiple seasons. For a team that is currently 22-25 this season — their luxury tax bill increased by nearly $3 million after the deal. Right leg injured.
Locally, Los Angeles is very interested in Hachimura, believing he has the potential he was unable to show with the Wizards after they chose to prioritize him. Kyle Kuzma And Deni Avtija. The Lakers are interested in retaining Hachimura and expect to re-sign the currently restricted free agent this offseason, league sources said. Athletic. According to those sources, Hachimura is expected to earn a double-digit annual salary, though far less than his nearly $19 million cap hit.
In 30 games this season, Hachimura is averaging 13.0 points on 55.8 percent true shooting, along with 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game (he missed 16 games with a bone bruise in his right ankle). The Japanese shot 33.7 percent on 3-point shots, a figure below the league-average, but he shot 44.7 percent from beyond the arc and 47.0 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s last season. That means he could 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 very good defender (0.9 in Defensive EPM). The video shows a skilled and physically capable defender who can improve his effort, consistency and awareness. The Lakers are confident that head coach Darwin Hamm’s system and playing alongside veterans like Davis, James, Westbrook and Beverley will help Hachimura unleash his untapped defensive potential.
Hachimura never played more than 57 games, so durability is a bit of a concern NBA Season — Although that number skewed somewhat last season, Hachimura, with the Wizards’ blessing, improved his mental health as he missed the first 39 games of the season.
At the very least, Hachimura’s arrival, combined with Nunn’s departure, will reduce the number of three-guard lineups the Lakers employ, which should help against teams with a defensive glass and multiple wing scorers. The Lakers have held the advantage in most games this season.
After allowing 39 second chance points Memphis Grizzlies James pointed out last Friday — a team that has given up more than 25 years — that they don’t have 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 players like the Grizzlies. This isn’t the first time he’s voiced his displeasure with the roster’s length and lack of size this season.
“I think we’re playing with three or four right now,” James said.
The Lakers have found chemistry with their current starting lineup Thomas BryantJames, Troy Brown Jr.Beverly and Dennis SchroederBut with three significant areas expected back in Davis soon, Austin Reeves and Walker IV, this starting five is always tentative.
The Davis-James-Hachimura front line gives the Lakers a versatile trio with good size, length and athleticism. They should be able to replace most matchups as Davis serves as the best defensive big man Hachimura has played with in his four-year career.
Although his career average of 16.9 points per 36 minutes ranks sixth behind James, Davis, Westbrook, Schroeder and Bryant, Hachimura will be the third or fourth offensive option in most lineups.
Price for the Lakers is Nunn, who has been playing very well lately, but is a different man when the Lakers are at full strength. With Reaves and Walker IV returning soon, the 27-year-old Nunn would have been the team’s sixth guard at best behind Reaves, Schroeder, Walker IV, Beverley and Westbrook. He has struggled to make an impact and find a rhythm this season, connecting on just 32.5 percent of his 3s. Besides Damian JonesNunn is the most expendable player on the Lakers’ 14-man roster.
Realistically, it was a great trade because of what the Lakers were going to find in exchange for Nunn and several second-round picks. Depending on how Hachimura fits in, the rest of their trade moves and how the free agent market plays out this summer, they could have their start in the future.
The 12th-ranked Lakers are just one game back of 10th place and two games back of 6th place. With James and Davis both playing like top-10 players this season, they’re teetering on a seven-game series as a low-seeded opponent no one wants to face — until they get there.
This move helps them get closer. It’s a step in the right direction for the Lakers, albeit not the kind of blockbuster deal that would put the Lakers in contention.
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(Photo of LeBron James and Hachimura: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)