The Dallas Mavericks were recently linked to Rui Hachimura in trade rumors hours before he was ultimately moved from the Washington Wizards to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.
Kyle Kuzma is having a big season and is playing in the final year of his contract. He is the Wizards' future at the four spots, which has caused Hachimura's trajectory as a member of the organization to fall out of favor. With Hachimura also due for a new contract this summer, the right move for Washington was to move on.
The official trade agreement involves the Lakers sending Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. Hachimura was discussed in trades over the last week, and after his recent comments about wanting to be in a situation where his skill set is valued, it sparked further discussions.
The Mavs were not among the three reported finalists in contention to trade for Hachimura. As it was reported by Shams Charania on Bally Sports' "The Rally," the other two finalists were the Indiana Pacers and Phoenix Suns. Both of those teams were much better equipped to facilitate a trade for Hachimura when comparing to what the Mavs have at their disposal.
The reaction to the trade involving the former 9th overall pick sparked confusion from many. Why did he only get traded for three second-round picks? The Wizards had to work against a few factors regarding the mechanics behind the trade.
The first is the clear need for an outlook for Hachimura to remain with the organization long-term, which impacts leverage. The other is that Hachimura has to be interested in his landing spot. A team trading for him isn't going to move assets for a rental.
The Lakers had a few advantages going their way to get a deal done. It starts with having Nunn's expiring $5.1 million salary to send out. When sending out a player on a rookie contract earning $6.3 million, it can be challenging to find a suitable contract to use for salary match purposes.
Taking on a smaller, expiring contract was the ideal outcome for the Wizards given their financial motivation to get further under the luxury tax threshold. Washington cleared roughly $1.2 million as a result of this trade. The Mavs don't have an expiring contract that could have presented the same opportunity. Dallas also is depleted of second round picks as they are sending out their selections in 2023, 2024, 2026, and 2028.
While taking a chance on young talent can be a helpful option, Hachimura still has to iron out some of the shortcomings in his game to be a high-level contributor to a winning team. He must take and make catch-and-shoot 3-pointers at a higher volume with greater consistency in execution.