Given the flurry of moves the team made in the hours leading up to the trade deadline, the team’s original acquisition leading up to the deadline, Rui Hachimura, has slid into the background. It’s not to say he’s been a disappointing acquisition as he’s largely been the same player statistically as he was in Washington.
In fact, given the dire need the Lakers have had for a wing, he’s been exactly what the doctor ordered for this team. Because of him, the team could at least somewhat survive LeBron James’ injury and at least have wing-sized players available.
Hachimura, though, is one of a number of players for the Lakers this season who could have their future in question as they enter free agency. Both Hachimura and Austin Reaves are restricted free agents, and D’Angelo Russell will be unrestricted.
With every situation being different when it comes to free agency, Hachimura will head into his looking to prioritize the years and money on his next contract, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic on the HoopsHype podcast with Michael Scotto.
Scotto: Rui Hachimura is expected to prioritize years and money in restricted free agency. 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: 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.
As mentioned before, Hachimura has seen his numbers dip, but not much and most of it can be accounted for based on fewer shots. He’s shooting nearly three shots fewer per game but is still shooting 47% from the field, almost identical to his percentage with the Wizards. Likewise, his 3-point percentage is different by only hundredths of percentage points.
If the Lakers are able to lock him up at roughly $10 million per year, it would be good business. Hachimura is still just 25 years old and 6’9” wings with offensive skillsets don’t just grow on trees, as the Lakers have learned the hard way in recent years.
And if you’re looking more long-term, having someone like Rui makes it easier in future seasons to rest LeBron intermittently next season. It’s a luxury the team has not been afforded.
Now, how much is all that security and insurance worth, on top of the picks traded to get him? That’s a question for Jeanie Buss, Rob Pelinka and the front office to answer, but it certainly feels like Rui is a valuable piece.
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