3 Frontrunners Emerge To Steal Rui Hachimura From Lakers

3 Frontrunners Emerge To Steal Rui Hachimura From Lakers

Rui Hachimura was the Los Angeles Lakers’ most successful acquisition ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline last season.

Hachimura, 25, showed flashes of what he could be during his time with the Washington Wizards, but he really put it all together during his brief regular season and postseason run in L.A.

In the playoffs, when it mattered most, the former Gonzaga star averaged 12.2 points per game on 55.7 percent shooting from the field and 48.7 percent shooting from three.

Beyond that, he also averaged nearly four rebounds and was one of the Lakers’ most versatile and ferocious defenders.

According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, Hachimura’s expectations for his next deal are pretty much public knowledge at this point.

“During extension conversations with the Wizards, sources said, Washington began the negotiations offering Hachimura around $12 million per season, and eventually moved into the $13 million-14 million range,” he wrote.

“Meanwhile, Hachimura’s side preferred something closer to a four-year, $60 million structure. He seemed destined for that number toward the end of the regular season. Los Angeles doesn’t surrender three second-round picks for Hachimura at the deadline without a rough understanding of his salary wishes.

“Following a strong playoffs, where the 24-year-old forward played critical closing minutes and started the Lakers’ final outing, that $15 million in average annual value seems like the floor for Hachimura.”

If $15 million is the floor, then what is the ceiling? According Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, probably something in the $18 to $19 million range.

So where does that land Hachimura? As noted by Sporting News, three teams seem like legitimate suitors.

“The [Houston] Rockets, [Utah] Jazz, [San Antonio] Spurs, [Detroit] Pistons, and [Orlando] Magic have cap space but already have young prospects or good depth at Hachimura’s position,” Stephen Noh reported.

“That leaves the [Oklahoma City] Thunder, [Indiana] Pacers and [Charotte] Hornets as the most realistic teams to try and put some pressure on the Lakers to match a big money offer.”

Hachimura, for his part, has expressed a desire to remain in L.A. During his exit interview, he spoke glowingly of his time with the Lakers.

“Man, first of all it was crazy. Crazy three months for me. Crazy meaning good, though,” Hachimura said.

“It was one of the best times of my life. Literally three months ago, four months ago I was in a different team in the east coast and all of a sudden I’m here in LA, one of the biggest team in the NBA and making this crazy run.

“When I got here I think we’re not even gonna make the playoffs. We’re not a playoff team yet. And we got a lot of trades and then we start the winning the games. We get the seventh seed, right, and then we got to the Western Conference Finals.”

Much as is the case with Austin Reaves, who also has three teams trying to pry him away from the Lakers, Rob Pelinka and Co. have the option of matching any offer that Hachimura gets.

The question is just whether they are going to.

Especially given that the only way they get Kyrie Irving is if they let Hachimura go.

One way or another, Hachimura earned himself a big pay raise this summer. Will that increase in pay ultimately come from the Lakers? Time will tell.

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Carlos Garcia

A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.
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