The Los Angeles Lakers faithful have long awaited a trade, and now they have one in place.
The Washington Wizards will send forward Rui Hachimura to the Lakers in exchange for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 23, 2023
Who is Rui Hachimura?
Hachimura is a name that has been in the rumor mill as the trade deadline approaches. Teams such as Dallas, Sacramento, and Milwaukee were rumored to be interested in the 24-year-old. Amid the rumors, Hachimura did not seem interested in staying with the Wizards when asked about his trade rumors.
Rui Hachimura was the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. He had spent the first four years of his career with the Wizards, where he has remained statistically consistent despite taking on a bench role. This year, he is averaging 13 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes in a game as a sixth man.
Offensively, Hachimura excels as an inside scorer with mid-range shooting as a 6’8, 230-pound forward. This year, he is shooting 80.3% at the rim while shooting 53.4% from 10-16 feet out. However, the caveat with him is his three-point shooting. He has shot below league average from behind the arc three times in his career. This season, he is only shooting 33.7% on three attempts per game, a steep decline from the 44.7% he shot last season on the same average of attempts.
Hachimura also comes to the Lakers as a bigger wing, which the team desperately needed. With this move, he joins LeBron James and Wenyen Gabriel as the only forwards taller than 6’6.
As For Washington…
On the surface, the move could look confusing to the naked eye for the Wizards. They are six games below .500 and traded one of their younger contributors for second-round picks. However, there may be more to the deal.
Hachimura is scheduled for free agency after the season and there has been a logjam at the forward positions. The Wizards also have Kyle Kuzma, coincidentally acquired in the Russell Westbrook trade with the Lakers, who has been starting over him. Young wings Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert also see heavy minutes at the small forward spot, where Hachimura was playing 56% of his minutes this season. With Kuzma also being rumored as a marquee trade candidate this season, it could free up more time for Kispert and Avdija. Or they may retain Kuzma on a new contract as they continue their retooling around their star, Bradley Beal.
As for Kendrick Nunn, he is on an expiring deal, which may free Washington of $5.2 million next offseason. As a player, Nunn has not been his best offensively this year. After showing flashes as a “microwave” scorer in Miami, Nunn came to the Lakers and has been unable to find a stable role on the team, only averaging 13.5 minutes a game. To make matters worse, his 95 offensive rating and 50.3% true shooting are the lowest of his career at this point.