Earlier this season, as well as last season, the Los Angeles Lakers had a glaring lack of depth at the wing and forward positions, and that lack of depth was especially palpable when LeBron James was either on the bench or unable to play.
But that has changed, and it started with a January trade that brought in Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards for little-used guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round draft picks.
Hachimura’s play has been up and down since coming to L.A., but he is a scoring threat who has given the team an instant offense option off the bench.
He will be a restricted free agent, and the Lakers reportedly want to keep him in the fold. However, doing so could be difficult, and Michael Scotto touched on this topic with The Athletic’s Jovan Buha on a recent HoopsHype podcast.
“Rui Hachimura is expected to prioritize years and money in restricted free agency,” said Scotto. “After trading away three second-round picks to acquire Hachimura, the Lakers would seemingly have optical pressure to match a potential offer sheet, and they clearly value him as a player.”
Buha then talked about how much the forward could be worth.
“I think the Lakers are going to try to retain him. … I think his range is around the non-taxpayer MLE. I think something in that 2/20 or 3/30 (range). Looking at his numbers in Washington versus LA, they’re almost identical across the board. … I think the Lakers are going to make an offer around $10 million, and if he’s looking for more or another team is willing to come in and make a bigger offer, they might be willing to walk away. They were high enough on him to trade those three second-round picks, and they want to keep him.”
Hachimura, who turned 25 last month, is averaging 10.1 points per game in 22 games with L.A., compared to 13 points a contest earlier this season in Washington. However, his shooting percentages are nearly the same as they were for him in 30 games with the Wizards prior to being traded.
In the same podcast, Buha said the Lakers are planning on running it back next season with their current roster. Doing so will mean owner Jeanie Buss will need to open her wallet more than she has in a little while.
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