And will LA pony up?
Your Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of evaluation to do for some of their new additions before they become free agents this summer.
Now that reserve 3-and-D center Mo Bamba appears to have lost ground to long-limbed backup string bean big Wenyen Gabriel in Darvin Ham’s frontcourt rotation, it’s no longer looking like a sure thing that Los Angeles will pick up his $10.3 million non-guaranteed salary for the 2023-24 season this summer.
Impending unrestricted free agent point guard D’Angelo Russell is in for a major new deal in 2023, though it seems likely to be less than his current maximum-salaried contract, given that he’s essentially an above-average starter at a coveted position, but no longer an All-Star.
So what will LA’s front office, led by team president Rob Pelinka, do with combo forward Rui Hachimura, whose contributions on the floor have become less essential since the Lakers added Jarred Vanderbilt’s defense and Malik Beasley’s perimeter shooting to the mix?
Sean Deveney of Heavy.com notes that LA appreciates the 6’8″ restricted free agent can be a credible catch-and-shoot option at both the small and power forward positions. Hachimura’s output has stagnated since an All-Rookie start to his NBA career in 2019-20, though for what he is he’s been solid.
He’s posted averages of 10.2 points on .458/.290/.667 shooting splits and 5.4 rebounds across 14 games with Los Angeles, including eight starts, though that run has come to an end. It was surprising that even after LeBron James was ruled out for several weeks yesterday, Darvin Ham opted to promote Troy Brown Jr., not Hachimura, into his starting small forward opening.
Deveney reports that his sources inform him Los Angeles is looking to ink Hachimura on a contract around the same lines of the three-year, $39 million deal they awarded champ Kyle Kuzma in 2020. Hachimura had hoped to get significantly more money than that from the team that drafted him with the ninth pick out of Gonzaga in 2019, the Washington Wizards, but there just doesn’t seem to be that big a market for his services at that level.