By completing a trade for Rui Hachimura, the Los Angeles Lakers are making a long-awaited upgrade on the wing — both this season and the future.
After months of trying to find the right player and deal, the Lakers accidentally selected Hakimura with the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, who is unhappy about not getting a contract extension and a reduced role with the Washington Wizards this offseason, league sources confirmed. The athletics. The Lakers sent Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to Washington, the teams announced Monday.
The Lakers and Wizards have been in talks for several days over the deal, with the primary point of competition in draft compensation, according to league sources. The athletics It was reported last week that Washington was exploring possible 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 the Lakers desperately need in the frontcourt. His ability to play both forwards helps balance the roster’s positional structure. It’s unclear whether Hachimura will start on Day 1, but the expectation is he will start next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis once the rotation adjusts, according to multiple team sources. The athletics.
Hachimura’s acquisition does not preclude the Lakers from making another trade before February. 9. They enter the next two-plus weeks armed with two first-round picks (2027 and 29) and three players (Patrick Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV and Russell Westbrook) as they update the roster.
With Davis expected to return soon, the Lakers are further evaluating the roster and rotation and are still looking to make minor or major upgrades with their tradeable draft assets. 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 Chargers are willing to consider adding more assets to acquire a better player, depending on Davis’ recovery and the state of the market as the deadline nears.
Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanovic continues to be a name linked to the Lakers in league circles, but the Pistons are looking for an unprotected first-round pick, at the very least, in a possible trade, according to league sources. The Lakers’ first choice is to give up the lottery-protected Bogdanovic, 34, though that could change near the trade-deadline.
Regardless of what happens next, the Hachimura trade is an undeniable win for Lakers vice president and general manager of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office.
The Lakers eased backcourt congestion, throwing away a low-cost, less-productive guard for three second-round picks, one of which (2028) was a trade for their first-round pick. In turn, they became younger, bigger, taller, more athletic and more talented by landing Hachimura, who they could keep for multiple seasons. They’ve shown they’re willing to take on more money — their luxury tax bill increased by $3 million after the deal — but for a team that’s currently 22-25 this season, Davis has shown his potential by going 10-9. Right leg injury.
Inside, Los Angeles is high on Hachimura, believing that he could not perform with the Wizards after choosing to prioritize Kyle Kuzma and Danny Avdija. The Lakers are interested in keeping Hachimura and expect to re-sign the currently restricted free agent this offseason, according to league sources. The athletics. According to those sources, Hachimura is expected to command a double-digit annual salary, although he will make about $19 million less than he already has.
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 due to a sprained right ankle during the season). The Japan native is shooting 33.7 percent on 3-pointers, a figure below league-average, but he shot 44.7 percent from beyond the arc and 47.0 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s last season. This suggests he can shoot better in Los Angeles with James, Davis and Westbrook creating high-percentage shots.
Hachimura has good value 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). The video shows the talented and physically gifted defender improving his effort, consistency and awareness. The Lakers are hopeful that playing with head coach Darwin Hamm’s system and veterans like Davis, James, Westbrook and Beverley will help bring out Hachimura’s unpredictable defensive potential.
Durability is a bit of a concern as he’s never played more than 57 games in an NBA season — although that number was partially skewed last season, with Hachimura missing the first 39 games of the season with the Wizards’ blessing leading to his mental health.
At the very least, Hachimura’s arrival combined with Nunn’s departure will reduce the three-guard lineup used by the Lakers, which will help against teams with multiple wing scorers on the defensive glass. The Lakers have had the size advantage in most games this season.
After allowing 39 second-chance points last Friday to the Memphis Grizzlies — the team he’s missed in more than 25 years — James pointed out that they don’t have players like the 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9. Grizzlies. It wasn’t the first time he’s voiced his complaints about his lack of length and size this season.
“I think we’re playing with three or four right now,” James said.
The Lakers have found chemistry with Thomas Bryant, James, Troy Brown Jr., Beverley and Dennis Schroder, but with Davis, Austin Reaves and Walker IV having three significant pieces expected soon, this first five was always going to be temporary.
A front line of Davis-James-Hachimura gives the Lakers a versatile trio with good size, length and athleticism. Hachimura has been the best defensive big man in his four-year career, and you can switch with Davis in most matchups.
Hachimura slots in as the third or fourth offensive option in most lineups, though his career average of 16.9 points per 36 minutes ranks sixth behind James, Davis, Westbrook, Schroder and Bryant.
The Lakers’ value is Nunn, who has been playing better lately, but he’s an odd man out when the Lakers are at full strength. With Reaves and Walker IV soon to return, Nunn, 27, will be the team’s sixth point guard behind Reaves, Schroder, 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 Jones, Nunn was the most expensive player on the Lakers’ 14-man roster.
In fact, this trade was good enough that the Lakers were looking to get a replacement for Nunn and several second-round picks. Depending on how Hachimura fits in, the rest of the trade and how the free agent market plays out this summer, they could get the future starter.
The 12th-ranked Lakers are just one game out of the No. 1 spot. 10 seed and two games against no. 6 race. With James and Davis both playing as top-10 players this season, a low-seeded opponent is one no one wants to face in a seven-game series — until they get there.
This step will help them become closer. It’s not the kind of blockbuster deal that would propel the Lakers into contention, but it’s a step in the right direction for the Lakers on the low side.
Harper: Lakers, Wizards swing trade for Rui Hachimura: Ratings and reaction
Leroux: With the Rui Hachimura trade, the $18.8 million cap hit is huge for the Lakers.
Charania and Aldridge: Wizards trade Rui Hachimura to Lakers: Why deal makes sense for him
(Photo of LeBron James and Hachimura: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)