Lakers excited to add Rui Hachimura, but Rob Pelinka says more moves are possible

LOS ANGELES — Rui Hachimura had no sooner arrived at his new home arena than the Lakers put him to work.

Moments after walking through the tunnel at Arena, Hachimura was in Lakers warm-up gear and on the court, going through drills with assistant coach Phil Handy and under the watchful gaze of his new head coach and new GM. But what stood out about the session even more than Hachimura sinking corner 3-pointers or swishing jumpers out of post-ups was his face: Hachimura beamed for almost the entire half-hour workout.

It was only days ago when the 24-year-old told The Washington Post that he wanted “to be somewhere that wants me as a basketball player.” He didn’t play on Tuesday night against the Clippers, but already he could feel it sinking in that he was with not only a team that needs a player like him but also in a place where he once dreamed of living.

“It’s so funny that when I was in college, I came here for college games and stuff, and I was joking around how this was gonna be my home,” Hachimura said. “So it’s great it’s really happening right now. So yeah, I’m so happy, and I’m so excited for this.”

The Lakers are excited, too. By getting Hachimura in a Monday trade, they added a 6-foot-8 forward and former top-10 draft pick who they kept a close eye on during his Gonzaga days and who they might be able to re-sign this summer. For a team in need of size, depth and youth, Hachimura checks a lot of boxes.

“He definitely fills a big void of giving us more size on the perimeter, a guy who can also guard bigger players in the post,” Coach Darvin Ham said after watching Hachimura’s pregame workout. “Just what he brings offensively, a guy that can create his own shot as well as fall into the system seamlessly.”

But, General Manager Rob Pelinka said during a Tuesday evening press conference, that doesn’t mean the Lakers will stand pat. While the Lakers pounced on an opportunity that Pelinka acknowledged was “a little bit slow” (the Lakers made only the second in-season trade in the league so far), the franchise is continuing to talk to other teams: “Doesn’t mean our work is finished,” he said.

The resources that loom the largest ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline are the Lakers’ two tradeable first-round picks in 2027 and 2029. Pelinka has indicated a willingness to use them publicly, but the Lakers have been reluctant to part with them without getting a true impact player in return.

The front office managed to get Hachimura with a package of Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks, keeping some of their powder dry for a bigger trade down the road. The Lakers also have contracts including Patrick Beverley ($13 million) and Lonnie Walker IV ($6.5 million) they could use to make deals before the deadline.

But Pelinka said before moving the first-round picks, the team wants to make a move that doesn’t just improve them, but makes them a legitimate contender, saying “there is no in-between.

“That’s a really delicate calculus and something, the entire front office, we evaluate with all the moves,” Pelinka added. “If we see a move that puts us as a frontrunner to get another championship here, the 18th one here, we’ll make it. And if that move doesn’t present itself, we’ll be smart and make it at a later time.”

If he’s able to make his Lakers debut Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs, Hachimura hopes to have an immediate impact. He’s played with three Lakers before during his time in Washington: Russell Westbrook, Thomas Bryant and Lonnie Walker IV. Alongside All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis (who hopes to return this week), he thinks he’ll fit right in.

“I think I can shoot the ball – threes, I can shoot midrange, I can attack the rim,” he said. “Even off the ball, cutting and stuff is good for me. I can get a rebound and push the ball and stuff, so I can do a lot of stuff. I think it’s going to be great.”

The Japanese-born Hachimura said he’s also attracted in part to the large L.A. market with a considerable population of Japanese ancestry. He’s also now just a nine-hour flight from his home country, where he’s a high-wattage star.

Pelinka hopes Hachimura falls in quickly.

“It’s expected by Darvin (Ham) and us that we’re competitive every night and I think one of the things with Rui is, if you look at the Gonzaga program and with the Wizards, he plays the game the right way,” Pelinka said. “And I think when he jumps into this flow of super competitive guys that are playing aggressively and physically every night, it’s going to bring also another level out of him.”

Marner’s point streak reaches 21 games as Maple Leafs rout Kings

Mitch Marner extended his franchise-record point streak to 21 games with a second-period goal as the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 5-0 win at home over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

With Toronto in front 3-0, thanks to goals from Pierre Engvall, David Kampf and William Nylander just 1:06 apart earlier in the second, Marner checked in with a slapshot marker after a Kings turnover inside their blue line.

The Maple Leafs (17-5-6) won for the seventh time in eight outings and handed Los Angeles (14-11-4) its seventh loss in 10 games.

With Canadian pop star Justin Bieber among the 18,567 at Scotiabank Arena, Marner scored his 11th of the season. He has 10 goals and 16 assists in his 21-game point streak.

WATCH | Marner extends franchise-record point streak:

Marner extends points streak to 21 games as Leafs shut down Kings

49 minutes ago

Duration 0:54

Mitch Marner’s second period goal helped Toronto shut out Los Angeles 5-0 Thursday night.

Marner’s streak is now tied for 23rd all-time in the NHL with Dave Taylor, Adam Oates and Bobby Hull.

Marner also became the 10th different player in the past 35 years to string together a point streak of 21 or more games and the third active skater, behind Patrick Kane (26 games in 2015-16) and Sidney Crosby (25 games in 2010-11).

Toronto goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his first shutout in a Maple Leafs sweater and the seventh of his career.

The Maple Leafs outshot their opponents 41-29.

Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, who made 36 saves, kept his club in the game for the opening 25 minutes.

The Maple Leafs had outshot the visitors 19-7 when Engvall beat Quick with a wrist shot for a power-play goal 5:10 into the second period.

Twenty-six seconds later, Kampf employed linemate Alex Kerfoot as a decoy to score on a two-on-one rush started by Kerfoot to provide the Maple Leafs with a two-goal advantage.

Nylander checked in with his 15th of the season, and fifth in seven games, on a breakaway goal 40 seconds later. He also set up Auston Matthews for his 14th goal midway through the final period.

Kerfoot was good for two assists against the Kings.

Engvall’s night ended early in the third period when he was given a match penalty for intent to injure after he high-sticked Kings defenceman Sean Durzi, a former Toronto draft pick, in the back of the head in the neutral zone.

During the ensuing five-minute power-play, Los Angeles winger Adrian Kempe scored but the goal was rescinded after a video review determined the play was offside.

Maple Leafs defenceman T.J. Brodie returned to the lineup after a 12-game absence because of an oblique injury, playing alongside newcomer Conor Timmins. Toronto went 9-0-3 without Brodie.

The Maple Leafs play the middle outing of their three-game homestand against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

Crypto Corner: The Sports Slice


Is it doom and gloom for crypto engagement and sports? The answer from top crypto executives is a mixed bag as the Sports Business Journal Dealmakers Conference inquiries from some of the highest ranked sports executives in the business.

Meanwhile, the World Cup heads to knockout rounds and departs group stages with little major fanfare in the crypto space. And FTX’s demise has led Formula 1 to take another glance at the risk profile surrounding cryptocurrency partners.

Each week, we review the biggest stories in sports and crypto with The Sports Slice – let’s dive into the past week of action.

The Sports Slice

SBJ’s Dealmakers Conference Asks Top Sports Execs: Buy, Sell, Or HODL? 

Sports Business Journal sat down with different sports executives at it’s annual Dealmakers Conference, asking many execs if they advocate buying, selling, or holding Bitcoin. The responses varied, but overall expressed a positive sentiment: Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s Ted Leonsis express bullish sentiment around blockchain technology at large – rather than a specific token or chain – while Professional Fighters League Chairman & Founder Donn Davis was less enthused, describing a story of giving his son some money to buy Bitcoin “and it’s all gone.”

Other bullish and bearish sentiment scattered throughout responses: Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick says “run for the exits,” while AEG Global Partnerships COOs Nick Baker and Russell Silvers were practically taken aback at the question, replying “buy… big buy.”

Even a little middle-ground responses made their way, such as WNBA player and WNBPA Secretary Elizabeth Williams expressed that she shies away from the volatility, and fellow WNBA hooper and WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike said that she simply wants to be more educated on the area before making a real decision on ‘buy, sell or HODL.’

Finally, frequent crypto converser and serial entrepreneur both in and out of sport, Mark Cuban, broke down how differentiated and nuanced crypto can get; Cuban separated the ideas of centralized exchanges, the extra speculative investments, and more blue-chip crypto investments. Cuban closed out in expressing that when a smart contract app brings true utility, we’ll see the next big boom; but just like with early internet, it will take time.

Bitcoin (BTC) was a focal point of questioning at Sports Business Journal's Dealmakers Conference this past week. | Source: BTC-USD on

F1 Considers Risk Profile Of Crypto Partnerships

FTX’s ripple effects continue. Sports sponsorship perspective has taken a major hit from the centralized exchange’s downfall; Formula 1 racing has seen a spike in dialogue around the topic, as Mercedes F1 team saw it’s FTX sponsorship collapse, it’s a stark reminder that crypto partnerships carry a risk profile.

Other perspectives have emerged this past week as well: SBJ Marketing’s blog posted a piece expressing that it will take time for momentum to re-emerge; Playfly Premier Partnerships CEO Randy Bernstein was quoted in the piece as saying that “crypto overheated so quickly…  there was irrational exuberance on both the buy and sell side.”

Finally, another article from the Dallas Morning News headlined “Crypto is done” expressed a less optimistic perspective on the matter: the article cites Jonathan Jensen, a former sports marketing executive at Omnicom and Publicis Groupe, who states that “the vetting process is, ‘Who’s going to pay the most?… most do not undergo a great deal of scrutiny.”

Jensen isn’t wrong and FTX is a prime example. However, this is far from being exclusive to the crypto industry. Just take a look at Houston Rockets past jersey partner, ROKiT, which was exposed on Reddit for it’s questionable business presentation. The jersey patch partnership was terminated a short time later.

As Bear Market Persists, Candy Digital Makes Cuts

Candy Digital, the NFT platform with a major sports focus, partnerships with the likes of the MLB and Netflix, and backing from Gary Vee and others, has laid off “a large part of it’s staff,” according to reports throughout last week.

According to the story, first released by Sportico, roughly one-third of the team’s 100-person staff has been laid off. The news comes following layoffs from fellow sports NFT platform Dapper Labs and from broader NFT marketplace OpenSea, among others, in recent months.