The Lakers went out and snagged forward Rui Hachimura from the Wizards, but it doesn’t mean they are done.
“[We] felt like it was an opportunity for us to strike early and address a need in a market that has proven to be a little bit slow,” general manager Rob Pelinka said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “And [it] doesn’t mean our work is finished. We’re going to continue to monitor the situation with the 29 other teams.
“… Our job as a front office is always to look to improve our team both now and in the future, and we felt like Rui was the perfect way to do that, and that’s why we struck early.”
Some will tell you that the Lakers did more than land Hachimura. They stole him. All they surrendered was reserve guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. Several opposing scouts and executives have told Hoops Wire they could have done better than that.
But it was the Lakers who swooped in and struck quickly, as Pelinka noted. As an added bonus, they didn’t have to deal either of their next two trade-eligible first-rounders (2027 and ’29).
“I think the calculus for the Lakers is to win a championship or not. There’s no in-between or incremental growth,” Pelinka said. “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 on to if we feel like that’s there.”
As it stands, the Lakers (22-26) are in 13th place in the Western Conference. Only the top eight qualify for the playoffs, the top 10 for the play-in tournament. With forward/center Anthony Davis reportedly returning and Hachimura available Wednesday, the Lakers seem to believe there is still time.
That’s especially true since the Feb. 9 trade deadline is a few weeks away and the Lakers remain in a position to deal. For instance, it’s been reported that they have been talking about guard Russell Westbrook with the Spurs. (Full post.)
“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 you can make,” Pelinka said. “That’s a really delicate calculus and something the entire front office, we evaluate with all the moves. If we see a move that puts us as a front-runner to get another championship here, 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.”
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