The Lakers made their first trade of the season on Monday when they landed Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura. The move was solid in a vacuum: three second-round picks and salary filler for a recent lottery pick at a premium position. It’s hard to ask for much better, yet it would be hard to argue that Hachimura, alone, solves this team’s woes. As much upside as he offers, he’s inconsistent on both ends of the “3-and-D” spectrum, which happen to be the two traits this team needs most.
If, at the end of next month’s trade deadline, Hachimura is the Lakers’ only pickup, their fortunes likely won’t change much. But if he’s the first domino at an active deadline? Then things get more interesting, and in introducing Hachimura Tuesday, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka reiterated what he said at the start of training camp: while the Lakers don’t plan to deal for the sake of dealing, he is prepared to offer both the team’s 2027 and 2029 first-round picks if the right trade comes around.
“I think the calculus for the Lakers is to win a championship or not,” Pelinka said. “There’s no in between or incremental growth. So as we analyze opportunities, we have to do it through that lens. And I said this at the beginning of the season, if there’s an opportunity to get all the way to the end and win a championship, there’s no resource we’ll hold onto if we feel like that’s there. But at the same time, the completely unwise thing to do would be to shoot a bullet early and then not have it later when you have a better championship move to make. So that’s a really delicate calculus … If we see a move that puts us as a frontrunner to get another championship, the 18th one here, we’ll make it. And if that move doesn’t present itself, we’ll be smart and make it at a later time.”
That language is interesting in its specificity. There likely isn’t a deal that makes the Lakers championship frontrunners merely because no team that is below .500 more than halfway through the season is ever realistically going to be considered a championship frontrunner. The…
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Author : Sam Quinn
Publish date : 2023-01-25 05:17:11
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