The Los Angeles Lakers acquired forward Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards in a trade for guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round draft picks.
The Lakers and Wizards made the first noteworthy deal with the NBA deadline only two and a half weeks away. Both teams are in 12th place in their respective conferences and would miss the Play-In Tournament if the season ended today.
The Wizards have a 20-26 record, but are only 1.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls in 10th place. FiveThirtyEight projects the Wizards will finish with a 38-44 record and have a 25% chance of advancing to the playoffs.
The Lakers are 22-25, and are among the five teams jockeying for the final two spots in the Western Conference Play-In Tournament. Only three games separate fifth place and 13th place in the west. FiveThirtyEight predicts the Lakers will finish the season with a 39-43 record and have a 30% chance to secure a trip to the postseason.
The popular Lakers are +4000 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship, according to DraftKings. Bettors want nothing to do with the Wizards, which is why they’re long shots to win the title at +70000 odds.
Hachimura Wanted Out of DC
The Wizards selected Hachimura, a star with the Gonzaga Bulldogs, with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He struggled with injuries during his first three seasons with the Wizards, but he averaged 13.0 points per game in 177 games with the team.
Hachimura had been unhappy with his diminished role on the Wizards while coming off the bench with the second unit. In 30 games as a substitute this season, Hachimura averages 13 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. He’s shooting only 33.7% from 3-point range, which is off from a career-best 44.7% from downtown last season.
The Wizards and the Phoenix Suns had discussions about a trade involving power forward Jae Crowder, but the deal fell apart.
The Lakers acquired Hachimura as a potential 3-and-D player who can provide strong defense on a front line with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers are also desperate to improve their 3-point shooting. They see Hachimura as a catch-and-shoot, spot-up sniper or as a reliable corner trey man.
Nunn barely cracked head coach Darvin Ham’s rotation with the Lakers, averaging only 13.5 minutes per game off the bench this season. He averages 6.7 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game. Nunn missed last season with the Lakers while recovering from a knee injury.
During his first two seasons as a pro, Nunn started 111 games with the Miami Heat, averaging 15 points per game.
Will Wizards Trade Bradley Beal or the Unicorn?
The Wizards are among the numerous losing teams that will be sellers as the trade deadline approaches. The Hachimura trade to the Lakers is the first of numerous deals that they expect to make in the next two weeks. The Wizards insist they don’t intend to trade forward Kyle Kuzma because they want to resign him to an extension in the off-season.
However, the Wizards are open to dealing center Kristaps “The Unicorn” Porzingis to any interested parties. The Wizards acquired the injury-prone Porzingis from the Dallas Mavericks prior to last season’s trade deadline. But he’s not drawing much interest on the open market.
The big question on the minds of NBA fans, especially in New York City, is will the Wizards actually trade away All-Star guard Bradley Beal? Or will they keep him and try to rebuild the team around him?
The New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks are both interested in adding Beal for a playoff run. Beal always draws trade chatter at this time of year. But the Wizards never actually trade him, only dangling him in front of other teams as untouchable trade bait. But there are rumblings out of Washington that the Wizards aren’t fooling around this year, and are actually seeking to trade Beal to the highest bidder.
Wizards Fleeced Lakers in Westbrook Trade
In recent years, the Wizards traded away other big-time guards, including John Wall and Russell Westbrook. The Wizards fleeced the Lakers in the Westbrook deal from two summers ago, and the Lakers are still reeling from that horrible decision.
The Lakers acquired Westbrook in the summer of 2021 after coughing up a first-round draft pick, two second-round picks, and a slew of role players — Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell — that helped them win a championship in the 2019-20 season. Westbrook and the Lakers weren’t a good fit last season, and it ended up costing head coach Frank Vogel his job.
The Westbrook trade put the Lakers in a bad spot where they didn’t have any other draft picks left to make necessary moves to improve the team at last year’s trade deadline or during the off-season.
The Lakers wanted to move Westbrook last summer. But they were unwilling to give up multiple first-round draft picks to entice other teams to take on his super-max contract, which is in excess of $47 million. With Westbrook in the final year of his contract, the Lakers had no choice but to keep him on the roster and let him finish out his contract. In the end, it was a wise move, because it preserved the only future first-round picks that the Lakers still owned.
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