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#pounditThursday, September 28, 2023

Lakers taking interesting stance with Rui Hachimura’s free agency?

Rui Hachimura waits for the ball

Apr 7, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Rui Hachimura (28) before playing against the Phoenix Suns at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The door may be slightly ajar for teams hoping to poach Rui Hachimura from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lakers beat writer Jovan Buha of The Athletic wrote on Thursday that the Lakers, who have matching rights on Hachimura as a restricted free agent, may have a walk-away number when it comes to the 25-year-old forward. Buha says that $20 million annually for Hachimura (for instance, a contract worth $80 million over four years) is where “things might get a bit dicey.” However, Buha believes that an annual figure at or below that $20 million threshold would “probably” mean that Hachimura is back with the Lakers.

The former lottery pick Hachimura was acquired by the Lakers at this year’s trade deadline in a steal of a deal with the Washington Wizards for Kendrick Nunn. He especially showed out in the playoffs with four separate games of 20 points or more off the bench. Hachimura can create his own shot, is automatic in the midrange, hits threes at a decent clip, and is also a disruptive defender at 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan.

$20 million per year actually would not be outrageous for Hachimura. That would rank him as roughly the 25th highest-paid forward in the league next year, in the same range as Denver’s Aaron Gordon ($21.3 million), Atlanta’s DeAndre Hunter ($20.1 million), and Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanovic ($20.0 million). But Hachimura is not the only free agent the Lakers have to worry about re-signing. In fact, they may have to pony up a lot more just to be able to keep this guy.


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