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How trading for Rui Hachimura could signal the Lakers' offseason plans

Why did the Lakers trade for Rui Hachimura and what could it mean for their offseason plans?

LOS ANGELES — Any move the Lakers are involved in at the NBA trade deadline will have an affect on their postseason upside this year as well as their roster flexibility in the upcoming offseason. 

The Rui Hachimura deal they struck with Washington aimed to do both, said hosts Andy and Brian Kamenetzky on Tuesday’s Locked On Lakers podcast.

“The Lakers intend to keep him. They want to re-sign him to a new contract going forward, meaning that he would eat into some of that $30-35 million the Lakers theoretically would have available to them next year,” Brian Kamenetzky said. “That to me is very interesting. It says a lot about where the Lakers think they might be going this offseason.”

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Hachimura will be a restricted free agent this summer, meaning so long as the Lakers make him a qualifying offer, the team will have matching rights on any offer sheet he could sign with a rival NBA team. 

Assuming he gets a rise on his current $4.9 million salary, the Lakers will cut into their potential cap space by signing him. If the Lakers do intend to sacrifice cap flexibility in order to retain Hachimura, it shows the front office’s considerable belief in his talent and upside.

“I hope that it signals a willingness to (treat) the deadline as an opportunity to make next year’s team now,” said Andy Kamenetzky on Locked On Lakers. “They obviously can be looking to make moves that help them this season, try to make that push up the standings, maybe avoid the play-in altogether, which is certainly possible."

“And I think Hachimura represents that. He’s somebody that should be getting minutes right away, but he is somebody that they’re thinking about as part of next year’s team.”

Hachimura was introduced Tuesday alongside general manager Rob Pelinka and could make his debut as soon as Wednesday night at home against the Spurs.

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