After completing the trade for Rui Hachimura, the Los Angeles Lakers are making a long-awaited upgrade to the wing — both this season and the future.
After months of thinking about finding the right player and making a trade, the Lakers selected Rui Hachimura with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Growing dissatisfaction with reduced roles, league source confirms AthleticThe Lakers sent Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to Washington, the team announced Monday.
According to league sources, the Lakers and Wizards discussed a trade for several days, with draft compensation being the main bargaining point. Athletic Reports last week said Washington was exploring potential trade destinations for Hachimura.
Rui Hachimura, who will turn 25 soon, has the size (6-foot-8, 230 pounds), size (7-foot-2 wingspan) and athleticism the Lakers desperately need in the frontcourt. His ability to play forward helps balance the positional structure of the lineup.It’s unclear whether Rui Hachimura will start on Day 1, but he is expected to start alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis once the rotation is confirmed, according to multiple team sources. Athletic.
The acquisition of Rui Hachimura does not prevent the Lakers from making another trade before February 9. They go into the next two-plus weeks with two first-round picks (2027 and ’29) and three players (Patrick Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV and Russell Westbrook) that they can upgrade Used to match salaries when rostering.
With Davis on the verge of returning, the Lakers are further evaluating the roster and rotation and are still deciding whether they want to make a small or big upgrade to a tradeable draft asset. At this point, their most likely move would be to trade Beverley and a lottery-protected first-round pick for another wing or frontcourt upgrade. But the Lakers are willing to consider adding more assets for better players, depending on how well Davis recovers and what the market looks like as the deadline approaches.
Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanovic remains the name most often associated with the Lakers in league circles, but the Pistons are looking for at least an unprotected first-round pick for a potential move, according to league sources. trade. The Lakers’ preference is to waive the lottery-protected priority only for Bogdanovic, 34, though that could change before the trade deadline.
Whatever happens next, the Rui Hachimura trade is an undisputed victory for Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office.
The Lakers eased their backcourt congestion by getting rid of their least efficient guard for the small cost of three second-round picks, one of which (2,028) was a swap for a pick they originally owned. In turn, they get younger, bigger, longer, more athletic and more talented when they sign Rui Hachimura, who they can keep for multiple seasons. They’ve shown they’re willing to take more money — their luxury tax was up nearly $3 million after the trade — and the team is 22-25 on the season but 10-9 in Davis’ absence. Showed its potential with a right foot injury.
Internally, Los Angeles thinks highly of Rui Hachimura, believing he has untapped potential, and he couldn’t show up for the Wizards after they opted to prioritize Kyle Kuzma and Deni Avdija. come out.The Lakers are interested in keeping Hachimura and are currently hoping to re-sign the restricted free agent in the offseason, league sources said. AthleticHachimura is expected to earn double-digit annual salary, but well below his near $19 million ceiling, according to those sources.
In 30 games this season, Hachimura is averaging 13.0 points and 55.8 true shooting percentage, along with 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists (he missed 16 games earlier this season with a right ankle contusion). games). The Japanese native shot 33.7 percent from deep, below league average, but he shot 44.7 percent from deep and 47.0 percent from catch-and-shoot last season. It shows that he can shoot better in Los Angeles when James, Davis and Westbrook create higher percentages for him.
Rui Hachimura has excelled in most defensive metrics, from above-average defender (+0.3 defensive Raptors) to good defender (defensive EPM+0.9). The video showcases a talented and physically gifted defender who can improve his effort, consistency and awareness. The Lakers are optimistic that playing with veterans like Davis, James, Westbrook and Beverley under head coach Dalvin Ham’s system will help realize Rui Hachimura’s untapped defensive potential.
Durability is a bit of a concern, as Hachimura has never played more than 57 games in an NBA season — though that number was skewed last season, when Hachimura missed the season in favor of the Wizards The first 39 games tended to his mental health.
At the very least, the arrival of Rui Hachimura, combined with the departure of Nunn, will reduce the number of three-guard lineups the Lakers use, which will help with defensive rebounding and against teams with multiple wing scorers. The Lakers have dominated most games this season with size.
After allowing the Memphis Grizzlies to score 39 second chances on Friday — the most points given up by a team in 25 years — James pointed out that they don’t have that many 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 players. in. Player Grizzlies. This isn’t the first time he’s expressed displeasure at the length and size of this season’s roster.
“I think we’re playing three or four right now,” James said.
The Lakers already have chemistry with their current starting lineup of Thomas Bryant, James, Troy Brown Jr., Beverley and Dennis Schroder, but expect Davis, Austin Reeves and Walker to be four. With three key players returning soon, the five starters are always going to be temporary.
The Davis-James-Rui Hachimura front provides the Lakers with a versatile trio with good size, length and athleticism. They’ll be able to switch in most matchups with Davis, the best defensive big man Rui Hachimura has played with so far in his four-year career.
Rui Hachimura will serve as the third or fourth offensive option on most lineups, though his career average of 16.9 points per 36 minutes ranks third behind James, Davis, Westbrook, Schroder and Bryant. six.
The price for the Lakers is Nunn, who has been playing a lot better lately, but he’s a weirdo when the Lakers go all out. With Reaves and Walker IV back, the 27-year-old Nunn will be the team’s sixth guard at best, behind Reaves, Schröder, Walker IV, Beverley and Westbrook. He’s struggled to make an impact and find his rhythm this season, shooting just 32.5 percent from 3-point range. Besides Damian Jones, Nunn is the most consumed player on the Lakers 14-man roster.
In fact, this is a deal that the Lakers exchanged for Nunn and multiple second-round picks. It’s possible they can find a starting forward of the future, depending on how Hachimura fits in, their other trade activity and how free agency plays out this summer.
The No. 12 Lakers are just one game behind the No. 10 seed and two games behind the No. 6 seed. Both James and Davis have played like top-10 players this season, and they loom over potential lower-seeded opponents nobody wants to face in a seven-game series — as long as they can get there.
This move helps them draw closer. While this isn’t the kind of blockbuster trade that would put the Lakers in contention, it’s a step in the right direction for the Lakers with minimal downside.
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(Photo by LeBron James and Rui Hachimura: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)