Lakers Set Firm Line on Future Trade Talks After Latest Move

LeBron James

Getty Images LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers made a move for Rui Hachimura on Monday and the team may not be done yet, although they’re taking a firm line on what they’ll give up in a trade.

The Lakers have been linked to Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who would give them some additional firepower on the offensive end. But if a deal does go down, the Lakers want the potential first-round pick they give up to be lottery-protected, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

“Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanović continues to be the name most often tied to the Lakers in league circles, but the Pistons are looking for an unprotected first-round pick, at a minimum, in a potential trade, according to league sources,” Buha reported after the Hachimura deal went down. “The Lakers’ preference is to only give up a lottery-protected first for the 34-year-old Bogdanovic, though that could change when up against the trade-deadline clock.”

A trade for Bogdanovic would be a big swing for the Lakers and a clear sign that they feel the roster has championship potential. Bogdanovic signed a two-year, $39.1 million contract extension with the Pistons in October. The Lakers would likely have to give up Patrick Beverley and some additional salary filler in the deal to make the money work in the trade.

Bogdanovic is averaging a career-high 21.2 points per game and is shooting 41.2% from beyond the arc. The Lakers got a first-hand look at Bogdanovic’s potential in December when he exploded for 38 points — his season-high. LA was still able to come out on top against the cellar-dwelling Pistons.

Lakers Dealt Kendrick Nunn & Picks to Wizards for Hachimura

The move for Hachimura wasn’t a blockbuster deal but gives them a young player with potential. And he should eventually slide into the starting lineup, per Buha.

“His ability to play either forward spot helps balance the roster’s positional structure,” Buha wrote. “It’s unclear if Hachimura will start on Day 1, but the expectation is that he will start next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis once the rotation settles.”

Hachimura — who comes in at 6-foot-8, 230 pounds — has appeared in 30 games for Washington this season, averaging 13.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 24.3 minutes per game, per Basketball Reference. He’s shooting 48.8% from the field and 33.7% from deep. Hachimura was the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

“Adding both size and depth to the wing position has been a goal, and the chance to accomplish that by acquiring a player with Rui’s two-way skills and upside was an opportunity that doesn’t present itself often,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “We want to thank Kendrick Nunn and his family for his time as a Laker, and we wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

Lakers Made Commitment to LeBron James to Improve Roster

The Lakers have managed to keep their season afloat despite a bevy of injuries, most notably to star big man Anthony Davis. The Lakers have won eight of their last 12 games, most of those behind some monster performances from James, who is averaging 33.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.8 assists in January.

The 38-year-old James made a strong statement after a loss to the Miami Heat in December that dropped LA to 14-21 that he’s at a point in his career where playing for championships is his only goal. Many saw that as a plea to the front office to make some impactful trades, which Pelinka said he would do ahead of the season.

“Let me abundantly clear: We have one of the great players in LeBron James to ever play the game, on our team. He committed to us with a long-term contract, a three-year contract. So of course we will do everything we can, picks included, to make deals that give us a chance to help LeBron get to the end,” Pelinka said.

The NBA trade deadline is on February 9, so we’ll know soon if the Lakers have anything else up their sleeve.

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