Japanese-born NBA player Rui Hachimura will make his Los Angeles Lakers debut this week after being traded from the Washington Wizards.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 23, 2023
The Lakers acquired Hachimura, who played forward with the Eastern Conference's Wizards, after trading former shooting/point guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks.
In a statement, Rob Pelinka, the Lakers' general manager and vice president of basketball operations, welcomed Hachimura onto their new roster, where he will be playing alongside NBA superstars such as LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
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We are excited to welcome Rui and his family to the Los Angeles Lakers. Adding both size and depth to the wing position has been a goal, and the chance to accomplish that by acquiring a player with Rui’s two-way skills and upside was an opportunity that doesn’t present itself often. We want to thank Kendrick Nunn and his family for his time as a Laker, and we wish him nothing but the best in the future.
Rumors of a trade began circulating days before Hachimura posted a 30-point score with the Wizards against the Orlando Magic on Saturday, defeating them 138-118.
The Atlantic reported last week that the Wizards were in trade discussions with several Western Conference teams for Hachimura.
Despite the floating rumors, Hachimura told ESPN after the Saturday game that his focus at the time was his performance, and that if he were to land with another team, he would want it to be a team where he is valued as a player.
I just want to be somewhere that wants me as a basketball player, and I want to be somewhere that likes my game. I've just got to keep focus on the moment right now. I know all the stuff going on right now. I've just got to play the games and just to be myself.
Born in Toyama, Japan, on Feb. 8, 1998, Hachimura was drafted by the Wizards in 2019 after playing at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.
The two players reportedly met for the first time when Watanabe was still playing for the Memphis Grizzlies in December 2019. Their meet-up was history in the making, as they were the first two Japanese NBA players to play against each during a regular season.