Lakers Make Major Decision on Rui Hachimura’s Future Following Trade: Report

Rui Hachimura

Getty Rui Hachimura

The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly made a major decision on Rui Hachimura’s future following their trade with the Washington Wizards.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers acquired Hachimura with the intention of signing him to an extension this summer. Hachimura will become a restricted free agent in July if Los Angeles offers him a qualifying offer of $8.5 million.

“Los Angeles acquired Hachimura with the intention of signing him to an extension this summer, sources said. Hachimura can be a restricted free agent,” Wojnarowski reported. “The Lakers believe that Hachimura gives them another sizable wing defender who has shown an ability to make corner 3-pointers and midrange shots when teams run the Lakers off the 3-point line. He has shot 40.8% on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers over the past two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, and is shooting 35.1% on catch-and-shoot 3s over the course of his career.”

The Lakers acquired Hachimura for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. According to ESPN NBA front office insider Bobby Marks, the trade will cost Los Angeles approximately $2.9 million in additional luxury tax this season if the roster stays the same.

Hachimura is averaging 13.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists this season while shooting 48.8% from the field, 33.7% from beyond the arc and 75.9% from the free-throw line. The Gonzaga product had grown unhappy in Washington since he and the Wizards didn’t agree to a rookie contract extension, per Wojnarowski.

Lakers ‘Excited’ About Adding Rui Hachimura

The Lakers, who are 22-25 on the season, are “excited” about adding Hachimura, who has career averages of 13.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

“We are excited to welcome Rui and his family to the Los Angeles Lakers,” Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka said. “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. 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.”

Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported that the Lakers are expected to start Hachimura alongside superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis once Davis returns from his right foot injury.

“The soon-to-be 25-year-old Hachimura has the size (6 foot 8, 230 pounds), length (7-foot-2 wingspan) and athleticism that the Lakers desperately need in the frontcourt,” Buha wrote. “His ability to play either forward spot 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 to LeBron James and Anthony Davis once the rotation settles, multiple team sources told The Athletic.”

Lakers Are ‘High’ on Rui Hachimura

Buha reported that the Lakers are “high” on Hachimura. Los Angeles believes the forward has “untapped potential.”

“Internally, Los Angeles is high on Hachimura, believing he has untapped potential that he wasn’t able to show with the Wizards after they chose to prioritize Kyle Kuzma and Deni Avdija,” Buha wrote. “The Lakers are interested in retaining Hachimura and currently expect to re-sign the restricted free agent this offseason, league sources told The Athletic. According to those sources, Hachimura is expected to command a double-digit annual salary though much lower than his nearly $19 million cap hold.”

The Lakers are just one game out of the No. 10 seed and two games back of the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference standings.

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