Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Lakers tease potential next move as they introduce Rui Hachimura

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The Los Angeles Lakers introduced new forward Rui Hachimura on Tuesday and general manager Rob Pelinka teased that more trades could be on the way.

The Lakers got the trade market moving before the Feb. 9 deadline with the move for Hachimiura, sending Kendrick Nunn and three second-round draft picks to the Wizards to become the former No. 9 overall pick.

It was far from a blockbuster move, although that could still be on the way for the Lakers as they weigh up what to do with their two coveted first-round picks.

“We’re looking for ways to get better in the league,” Pelinka told reporters Tuesday, Jan. 24. “It doesn’t mean our work is finished. We will continue to monitor the situation with 29 other teams. Our job as a front office is to always look for ways to improve our team now and in the future.”

Championship-level expectations vary year to year for the Lakers, Pelinka acknowledged. And it’s even more urgent when title-hungry 38-year-old LeBron James serves as the centerpiece of the franchise. Pelinka reiterated what he said pre-season that the front office would be willing to relinquish his fortune if they felt it could result in a championship-caliber player.

“I think the calculus for the Lakers is to win a championship or not. There is no in-between or incremental growth,” Pelinka said. “When we analyze opportunities, we have to do it through that lens. And I said that at the beginning of the season, if there’s an opportunity to go to the end and win a championship, there’s no resource that we’re going to hold on to when we feel like it’s there.”

Pelinka also made it clear that the Lakers exercise caution with every move and don’t want to strike at an awkward time just to make a move.

“The totally unwise thing would be to take a ball early and then not have it later when you have a better championship move to make,” said Pelinka. “So this is a really tricky calculus. It’s something that evaluates the entire front office with all its movements. If we see a move that puts us as front runners for another championship, 18th here, we’ll do it. And if that step doesn’t come up, we’ll be smart and take it at a later date.”

Trade rumors have been constant for the Lakers this season, many of them involving Russell Westbrook, who is making over $47 million off the bench this season. Some names the Lakers have rightfully been associated with are Bojan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish.

If the Lakers make a move, James and Anthony Davis’ votes will go into the final decision.

“Our captains LeBron and Anthony Davis are always involved in what Coach Ham is doing and what the front office is doing. At the same time, LeBron said it very well at the press conference the other night when he said, “My job is to play basketball; The front office’s job is to get their job done and build a squad, and coach Ham’s job is to coach. I agree with that. We all have to do our job and do it with excellence and all be together. This is how we work and will continue to do so.”

In the meantime, the Lakers will try to integrate Hachimura into their system and Ham is ‘super excited’ about joining the rotation.

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