The 2023 NBA trade deadline is still weeks away, but the Los Angeles Lakers have decided. On Monday, they traded Kendrick Nunn and three future second-round picks to the Washington Wizards in exchange for fourth-year forward Rui Hachimura.
Although there were rumors of a possible Hachimura trade, the actual deal came out of nowhere. So much so that even Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder was stunned. The veteran was live as news of the trade broke on social media.
“What trade? Rui? Oh no, hell no,” Schroder said. “Rui for Kendrick Nunn? Oh my god, I gotta text Rui. I gotta text Kendrick Nunn. This is crazy, the NBA is a business — crazy. Man, this is.. .”
The clip cuts out at this point, but you get the point. It’s pretty rare to get a player’s honest initial reaction to a trade rather than a quick phrase in the media a few hours later. As Schroder’s stream shows, most of the time other players aren’t aware of everything the front office is up to, so the trades come as a surprise to them just as much. Schroder, who has been traded three times in his career, certainly knows that feeling.
As for this deal, Hachimura will give the Lakers much-needed size and athleticism in the frontcourt and cost them very little in return. There’s a lot of upside here for the Lakers, especially if Hachimura can get back to shooting the 3 like he did last season when he hit 44.7% on 2.9 attempts per game. Playing alongside LeBron James should help in that regard. There are real questions about Hachimura’s defense, however, and he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season. All in all, a valid bet for the Lakers, but time will tell how much this actually moves the needle.