The Lakers are finally making moves. Los Angeles acquired forward Rui Hachimura from the Wizards on Monday, per multiple reports. The Lakers will send Washington guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks in the deal. Hachimura, a former ninth overall pick, is in his fourth season in the NBA. He is averaging 13.0 points and 4.3 rebounds a night, while shooting 48.8% from the field. Nunn, also in his fourth year, is putting up 6.7 points per game. Let’s grade the trade for both sides.
This is a solid if not spectacular move for a Lakers team hanging around the play-in picture despite a poorly constructed roster and an injury to Anthony Davis. On one hand, the price being paid for Hachimura is relatively low. Second round picks occasionally turn into something but may as well be monopoly money. Nunn plays only 13.5 minutes a night, and is superfluous in a guard rotation involving Dennis Schröder, Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves and Patrick Beverley. Hachimura is young enough to take a flier on. He’s not quite a knockdown shooter. He’s connected on 35.6% from outside in his career, though on rather low volume. Still, his athleticism should be a nice fit in the frontline, and he can play alongside Davis whenever he returns. Putting him next to James and Davis will be a solid option for Darvin Ham, who has had to opt for some three-guard lineups that can get beat up by bigger teams at times this year.
My only real caution here—and it’s small—is the Lakers don’t have a plethora of chips to move around. Nunn’s contract theoretically could have been used in many different types of deals. Does Hachimura really move the needle? Of course, theoretical trades don’t get anything done. And ultimately, the Lakers need all the rotation help they can get, especially when it comes to size and athleticism. We’ll give this trade a hearty golf clap, not a spirited applause.
Nunn seems like a candidate to get waived immediately. Maybe one of the three second-round picks hits, though Washington’s recent track record on second rounders doesn’t inspire confidence. It’s a bad spot to be in for the Wizards. It’s never great to be in a position to cut bait with a lottery pick. It hurts even more when the return for him doesn’t really net anything tangible. At least Washington seems to be in a realistic place about the roster moving forward, which is to say thinking about the long term as opposed to this season. This grade more so reflects not being able to get it done with Hachimura than this trade itself, which for the Wizards is nothing more or less than a definitive “Meh.”