The first trade of the 2022-23 NBA season has been agreed upon and it has come with just over two weeks until the 2023 NBA trade deadline!
With the Washington Wizards discussing trade scenarios involving forward Rui Hachimura in recent weeks, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to acquire Hachimura from Washington for guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Hachimura, 24, was the 9th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Wizards, but his time with the team had been very up-and-down.
His minutes decreased significantly a season ago compared to his second season in the league and it had not seemed like the franchise was on the same page with their young forward for quite a while now, especially after they barely held contract extension talks prior to the start of this season.
In the final year of his rookie contract and set to become a restricted free agent, a fresh start was something both the Wizards and Hachimura were looking for, hence why a trade made sense ahead of the deadline.
Rui Hachimura now joins a Los Angeles Lakers team that finds themselves one game out of the Play-In Tournament picture in the Western Conference and will absolutely utilize his services out on the wing.
Los Angeles has really struggled to shoot from long-range this season, as they rank 26th in the league in three-point shooting and really do not have a reliable shooting threat. The addition of Hachimura gives them this exact player, as Hachimura has shot 40.1 percent from three-point range since the start of last season.
There was a lot of talk about what the Lakers would do trending towards this season’s trade deadline given their struggles during the first half of the season and Rui Hachimura gives them a versatile secondary scorer who will provide them with immediate depth in the frontcourt.
This was also a smart move by Los Angeles because they did not give up a ton of valuable assets to get him, as Kendrick Nunn was nothing more than a bench scorer behind Dennis Schroder and Patrick Beverley.
Not to mention, the Lakers gave up three second-round picks:
- Chicago Bulls 2023 second-round pick (via Los Angeles)
- Los Angeles Lakers 2029 second-round pick
- Least favorable of Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers 2028 second-round pick
This 2028 second-round pick from Washington had been owned by the Lakers since the Russell Westbrook trade in 2021.
Being a reliable three-point shooter on the wing and being as young as he is, Hachimura will immediately be of value to the Lakers and it appears as if they will be looking to keep him past this season, as Wojnarowski reports that Los Angeles acquired Hachimura with the intention of signing him to an extension this summer.
As for the Washington Wizards, this move not only nets them some future assets and another backcourt piece in Nunn to play around with alongside Monte Morris and Delon Wright, but trading away Rui Hachimura should make it very clear that they are “all-in” on keeping Kyle Kuzma and extending him long-term.
Over the last few weeks, Washington has been unwilling to bring up Kuzma’s name in trade talk with rival teams around the league and while he is expected to opt out of his player option to enter unrestricted free agent in the summer, the Wizards envision Kyle Kuzma being a part of their core alongside Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis for the foreseeable future.
The Lakers got what they have been needing out on the perimeter at a smaller price than many would have imagined and the Wizards added some second-round value that they could possibly package together in a future trade for value.
This really does seem like a win-win move by both franchises and now that the first domino has fallen ahead of the trade deadline, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the league reacts in their trade discussions.
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