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ROSTER REVISIONS. Forward Rui Hachimura of the Los Angeles Lakers grabs a rebound during an NBA basketball game on January 25, 2023 in Los Angeles. The Lakers last month acquired former lottery pick Hachimura from the Washington Wizards. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Rui Hachimura smiles before a game against the Brooklyn Nets in New York. The Lakers last month acquired former lottery pick Hachimura from the Washington Wizards. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)

From The Asian Reporter, V33, #2 (February 6, 2023), page 13.

Lakers acquire Rui Hachimura from Wizards for Nunn, picks

By Tim Reynolds

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers last month acquired former lottery pick Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Kendrick Nunn and a package of second-round draft picks.

Hachimura and the Wizards did not agree on a rookie extension before the season started, which prompted speculation that the Japanese power forward wouldn’t be in their long-term plans.

And it makes sense that the Lakers are seeking help since they are near the bottom of the Western Conference in 12th place.

"I just want to be somewhere that wants me as a basketball player," Hachimura told reporters last month. "And I want to be somewhere that likes my game. ... I just want to be somewhere that believes in me and I can be myself. That’s my goal."

The 6’8" Hachimura figures to provide the Lakers with wing defense and 3-point shooting ability, two clear needs for a team fighting to stay afloat during lengthy injury absences of Anthony Davis.

"Adding both size and depth to the wing position has been a goal, and the chance to accomplish that by acquiring a player with Rui’s two-way skills and upside was an opportunity that doesn’t present itself often," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said.

The Wizards got second-round picks this year, 2028, and 2029, plus a trade exception.

"Kendrick has shown the ability to be a solid perimeter threat who can provide instant offense as a reserve," Wizards President Tommy Sheppard said. "He has proven to be a valuable contributor during his young career, most notably as key role player helping Miami make a run to the finals."

Los Angeles has hit only about 33.7% of its 3-pointers this season, ranking near the bottom of the NBA. Hachimura is hitting 34% of his 3-point shots this season after hitting 44.7% last season, but he excels in the catch-and-shoot situations that are often created for LeBron James’ teammates by his penetration and playmaking.

Hachimura is also a standout midrange shooter, while his length should provide the Lakers with an option against teams with taller wing players who have occasionally exploited Los Angeles’ lack of mobility on the perimeter.

Hachimura appeared in 30 games for the Wizards this season, all off the bench, averaging 13.0 points on 49% shooting. He was the No. 9 pick in the 2019 draft out of Gonzaga.

Hachimura equalled a career high with 30 points for the Wizards in his final game before the deal. He had no comment when asked afterward if he’d requested a trade. He started 105 games in his first two seasons but only 13 since then.

Hachimura is reuniting with penetrating guard Russell Westbrook, his teammate in Washington during the 2020-2021 season. Hachimura famously said Westbrook was his "senpai" — his "leader" in Japanese.

Nunn was in his fourth NBA season, his second with the Lakers, though he missed all of last season with a knee problem before activating his $5.25 million option for this season in the final year of his deal. Nunn has averaged 6.7 points in 39 games this season, 37 of them in a reserve role, with wildly inconsistent contributions offensively. He has not matched the offensive success he had in his first two seasons with the Heat.

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