Wizards trade former lottery pick Rui Hachimura to Lakers

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The Washington Wizards have traded Rui Hachimura to the Los Angeles Lakers for a package of draft picks, multiple people with knowledge of the deal said Monday.

The Lakers send three future picks in the second round and guard Kendrick Nunn to Washington for Hachimura. The picks include a 2023 pick over Chicago, the Lakers’ own 2029 pick, and the least favorable second round pick between the Wizards and Lakers in 2028.

Hachimura, 24, said on Saturday that he had “no comment” on recent trade speculation, and that he “just wants to[ed] to be somewhere I want as a basketball player.

Hachimura did not practice with the Wizards on Monday due to an excused personal absence, coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.

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A 2019 lottery pick, Hachimura has struggled to fully blossom during his four seasons with the Wizards. After missing almost half of last season due to a personal furlough, Hachimura was transferred to a bench roll this season. He averages 13 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 24.3 minutes per game, while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from depth.

The Wizards and Hachimura failed to reach a contract renewal deal before last October’s deadline. ESPN and The Athletic were the first to report on Hachimura’s trade.

The Lakers, who are the West’s 12th seed to enter Monday, have been eyeing trades all season after star forward LeBron James criticized the team’s composition on opening night. The Hachimura deal allowed the Lakers to add a rotational player without sacrificing either of their two remaining future first-round picks, which could be used to close additional deals before the February 9 trade deadline.

Hachimura would fill a clear need from Los Angeles, which has been looking for size and athleticism on the wing all season. The team has been forced to use substandard lineups with all-star center Anthony Davis sidelined with a foot injury, and recent injuries to Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves have thinned their perimeter corps.

Hachimura’s defense has been his weak spot throughout his career, but his six-foot, 230-pound frame offers an enticing blend of versatility and physicality.

If he excels with the change of scenery, the Lakers can make him a restricted free agent by making him a qualifying offer this summer.

For the Wizards (20-26), the move addresses overcrowding at the power forward position as the team ranks 12th in the Eastern Conference. Unseld’s favored lineup features Daniel Gafford at center and Kristaps Porzingis at power forward, pushing Hachimura and third-year forward Deni Avdija, a lottery pick in 2020, off the bench for minutes.

Rather than risk losing Hachimura for nothing in free agency, Washington made back change without taking any future salary – crucial for the organization as it faces the question of whether it can retain two high-priced core players after this season retained in Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma.

Kuzma said earlier this season he will not sign an renewal with the Wizards and has become an interesting player for multiple teams as the Feb. 9 trade deadline approaches, even as Washington has indicated it intends to retain its third leading scorer, according to several people in the competition.

Porzingis could exercise a $36 million player option or become an unrestricted free agent. Complicating matters is that Bradley Beal will earn $46.7 million next season in the second year of his maximum five-year contract. Keeping all three players would bring Washington close to paying the luxury tax, which owner Ted Leonsis has done just once since taking over the franchise in 2010.

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But finding a new home for Hachimura crossed one item off Washington’s to-do list.

The Wizards and Lakers are no strangers to trading partners, as they previously agreed to a 2021 trade that sent Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, Hachimura would reunite with several former Wizards teammates, including Westbrook, with whom he developed a close relationship in Washington, Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown Jr.

Nunn, 27, never found a consistent and productive role with the Lakers this season after missing the 2021-2022 season with a knee injury. The scoring guard has averaged 6.7 points while shooting just 40.6 percent on aggregate and 32.5 percent from deep in 39 appearances. He is in the final year of a two-year, $10.3 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

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