Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Lakers set firm line on future trade talks after final move

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The Los Angeles Lakers made a move for Rui Hachimura on Monday and the team may not be done yet, although they have a firm line about what they will give up in a trade.

The Lakers have been linked with Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who would bring them additional firepower on offense. But if a deal goes through, the Lakers want the potential first-round pick they are giving up protected by lottery, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.

“Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanović remains the name most associated with the Lakers in league circles, but the Pistons are looking at least for an unprotected first-round pick in a potential trade, according to league sources,” Buha reported after the Hachimura deal went under . “The Lakers prefer to only give up a lottery-protected first for 34-year-old Bogdanovic, although that could change if the trade deadline clock goes against it.”

A trade for Bogdanovic would be a huge momentum for the Lakers and a clear sign that they believe the roster has championship potential. Bogdanovic signed a two-year, $39.1 million contract extension with the Pistons in October. The Lakers would likely have to give up Patrick Beverley and some additional salary fillers in the deal for the money to work in the trade.

Bogdanovic is averaging a career-high 21.2 points per game and shooting 41.2% from long range. The Lakers got their first taste of Bogdanovic’s potential in December when he exploded for 38 points — his high of the season. LA was still able to prevail against the Pistons living in the basement.

The move for Hachimura wasn’t a blockbuster deal but gives them a young player with potential. And he should eventually slip into the starting line-up, per Buha.

“His ability to play both forward spots helps balance the squad’s positional structure,” Buha wrote. “It’s unclear if Hachimura will start on Day 1, but the expectation is that he will start alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis once the rotation has settled.”

Hachimura – who arrives at 6ft 8 and 230 pounds – has played in 30 games for Washington this season, averaging 13.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 24.3 minutes per game, per Basketball Reference. He shoots 48.8% from the field and 33.7% from deep. Hachimura was the ninth overall pick of the 2019 NBA draft.

“Adding both size and depth to the wing position was a goal and the chance to achieve that by winning a player with Rui’s two-way skills and advantages was an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “We want to thank Kendrick Nunn and his family for his time as a Laker and wish him all the best in the future.”

The Lakers have managed to keep their season going despite a multitude of injuries, most notably at the hands of big man Anthony Davis. The Lakers have won eight of their last 12 games, most of them behind some monster performances from James, who averaged 33.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.8 assists in January.

James, 38, made a strong statement after a loss to the Miami Heat in December that dropped LA to 14-21 that he has arrived at a point in his career where his only goal is to win championships to play. Many saw this as a request for the front office to make some high-impact trades, which Pelinka would do preseason.

“Let me be very clear: we have one of the greatest LeBron James players to ever play the game on our team. He made a long-term commitment to us, a three-year contract. So of course we’re going to do everything we can, including picking, to do deals that give us a chance to help LeBron get through to the end. said Pelinka.

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 9, so we’ll soon know if the Lakers have anything else up their sleeves.

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