Image Courtesy of International Business Times

By Jonathan Norman 

The Washington Wizards traded away power forward Rui Hachimura to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for veteran guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. The move comes about as the National Basketball Association (NBA) tradeline is about a week away on February 9th. 

The Wizards selected Hachimura with Gonzaga’s ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Since then, the 6’ 8  power forward has been a solid bench player for the Wizards. This season he averaged 13 points a game and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from the three-point line. 

This trade also comes amid rumors that Hachimura had been frustrated with the Wizards organization. In every game, this season, the power forward came off the bench, and in the off-season, he had been unable to negotiate with the Wizards front office on a contract extension. This led Hachimura  not feeling valued by the Wizards. 

“I just want to be somewhere that wants me as a basketball player,” said Rui Hachimura. “And I want to be somewhere that likes my game … I just want to be somewhere that believes in me and I can be myself. That’s my goal.”

The Lakers have desperately needed another big man to add to their rotation. Their 6 ’10 forward in, Anthony Davis has been plagued with injuries this season, and their other 6′ 9 forward Lebron James is 38 years old and cannot carry the weight of the entire team. Hachimura should be able to come into the Lakers and make an immediate impact. Reactions from management for the Lakers have been very positive, and the team seems to be grateful to add the former Wizard to their roster.

“We are excited to welcome Rui and his family to the Los Angeles Lakers,” said Rob Pelinka, vice president of basketball operations and general manager for the Lakers. “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.”

The Lakers’ players also seem pleased with Hachimura’s arrival to their squad.  Anthony Davis had nothing but positive remarks after Hachimura’s debut for the Lakers in a win against the San Antonio Spurs.

“Any time I played against him in Washington, he made an impact on the game on both ends of the floor,”  Davis said “And tonight, we tried to feature him. A lot of post-ups knowing that he can do it all. Really good mid-range shooter. Can get to the basket. Has a back-to-the-basket game. Face-up. Can shoot the ball.”

The Lakers currently sit near the bottom of the Western Conference in the 13th seed, so they may be looking to make more additions to their roster before the trade deadline.

As for the Wizards, they now have three extra draft picks at their disposal with second round picks in the 2023, 2028, and 2029 NBA Drafts. They also received a veteran guard in Kendrick Nunn, who missed all last season due to a knee injury, but is averaging 6.7 points and 1.4 rebounds a game this season.

The Wizards would make the play-in tournament if the season ended today as they currently sit in the ninth seed. Even with this, the Wizards could soon trade away another key player in Kyle Kuzma, as multiple teams are reportedly interested in a trade for the veteran forward.

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