Lakers Urged to Trade for 24-Year-Old $20 Million Forward

Yuta Watanabe and Rui Hachimura

Getty Yuta Watanabe and Rui Hachimura

The Los Angeles Lakers have been urged to trade for a 24-year-old $20 million forward.

On January 21, Alex Kirschenbaum of Sports Illustrated wrote that the Lakers should try to acquire Washington Wizards power forward Rui Hachimura.

“Hachimura would add some floor-spacing at the four spot, but next to LeBron James could conceivably play some small forward,” Kirschenbaum wrote. “The 24-year-old is averaging 12.4 points on .480/.321/.768 shooting splits this year, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists, but he’s a career 35.3% shooter from long range and one would have to hope his three-point shooting could stabilize with a new club. It’s a bit of a risk, but he’s a talented young player with plenty of upside would could fulfill a need for LA.”

The Wizards have begun trade discussions with multiple teams centered on Hachimura, according to a January 18 report from Shams Charania and Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Hachimura, who is set to become a restricted free agent after this season, has drawn interest from multiple Western Conference teams. The Gonzaga product 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.

How Can the Lakers Acquire Rui Hachimura?

Under CBA rules, the Lakers can trade guard Kendrick Nunn and a future draft pick to the Wizards for Hachimura. Kirschenbaum wrote about that possibility in his column.

“What would it cost the Lakers to acquire Hachimura? For salary-matching purposes, LA could dangle the expiring $5.3 million contract of underwhelming 6’2″ veteran bench point guard Kendrick Nunn, who because LA has too many point guards has been forced to play way too many minutes at shooting guard,” Kirschenbaum wrote. “The real question is, what level of future draft equity would Los Angeles offer Washington in addition to Nunn? Is Hachimura worth a lottery-protected first-round pick? Would Washington instead accept multiple second-round draft selections that, if LA’s performance this year is any indication, could be pretty high?”

Nunn is on an expiring contract. The Lakers have discussed the lefty in multiple trade talks this season, league sources told Heavy Sports. Nunn is averaging 6.8 points and 1.3 rebounds while shooting 33.1% on 3-pointers.

Hachimura signed a four-year, $20.3 million rookie scale contract with the Wizards in July 2019. Washington drafted the swingman with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 draft. The Toyama native has career averages of 13.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

The Lakers Probably Won’t Make a Big Trade This Season

While speaking on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” on January 20, ESPN senior insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers probably won’t make a big trade this season. Los Angeles is only 21-25.

“I don’t think there’s any big, big deals for the Lakers out there,” Wojnarowski said. “But I do think they’re going to be active around the edges to try to improve this team as they try to get into the postseason with LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ return.”

The Lakers are unlikely to trade their draft picks in 2027 and 2029 this season, according to a January 22 report from Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. The purple and gold are interested in trading for New York Knicks forward Cam Reddish and Detroit Pistons wing Bojan Bogdanovic. The NBA trade deadline is February 9.

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