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Lakers acquire Rui Hachimura from Wizards for Nunn, picks

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The Los Angeles Lakers acquired former lottery pick Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards on Monday in exchange for Kendrick Nunn and a package of second-round draft picks.

Hachimura and the Wizards did not agree on a rookie extension before the season started, which prompted speculation that the Japanese power forward wouldn’t be in their long-term plans.

And it makes sense for the Lakers to be seeking help. At 22-25, they’re in 12th place in the Western Conference, but entered Monday just two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 6 spot and four games back of the New Orleans Pelicans for No. 4 in the West — with LeBron James averaging nearly 30 points per game and a belief that Anthony Davis will be back from injury sooner than later.

“I just want to be somewhere that wants me as a basketball player,” Hachimura told reporters last week. “And I want to be somewhere that likes my game. … I just want to be somewhere that believes in me and I can be myself. That’s my goal.”

The 6-foot-8 Hachimura figures to provide the Lakers with wing defense and 3-point shooting ability, two clear needs for a team fighting to stay afloat during Davis’ latest lengthy injury absence.

“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,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said.

The Wizards got second-round picks this year, 2028 and 2029, plus a trade exception.

“Kendrick has shown the ability to be a solid perimeter threat who can provide instant offense as a reserve,” Wizards President Tommy Sheppard said. “He has proven to be a valuable contributor during his young career, most notably as key role player helping Miami make a run to the Finals.”

Los Angeles has hit only 33.7% of its 3-pointers this season, ranking near the bottom of the NBA. Hachimura is hitting 34% of his 3-point shots this season after hitting 44.7% last season, but he excels in the catch-and-shoot situations that are often created for James’ teammates by his penetration and playmaking.

Hachimura is also a standout midrange shooter, while his length should provide the Lakers with an option against teams with taller wing players who have occasionally exploited Los Angeles’ lack of mobility on the perimeter.

Hachimura has appeared in 30 games for the Wizards this season, all off the bench, averaging 13.0 points on 49% shooting. He was the No. 9 pick in the 2019 draft out of Gonzaga. Washington is 20-26 after signing star guard Bradley Beal to a big contract in the offseason, and the Wizards were 1 1/2 games behind the final play-in spot heading into Monday’s games.

Beal has dealt with injury problems, and now the Wizards are without Kristaps Porzingis, who sprained an ankle Saturday night. Washington announced Monday that Porzingis is week-to-week because of that injury.

Hachimura equaled a career high with 30 points for the Wizards on Saturday in his final game before the deal. He had no comment when asked afterward if he’d requested a trade. He started 105 games in his first two seasons but only 13 since then.

Hachimura will be reuniting with penetrating guard Russell Westbrook, his teammate in Washington during the 2020-21 season. Hachimura famously said Westbrook was his “senpai” — his “leader” in Japanese.

Nunn is in his fourth NBA season, his second with the Lakers, though he missed all of last season with a knee problem before activating his $5.25 million option for this season in the final year of his deal. Nunn has averaged 6.7 points in 39 games this season, 37 of them in a reserve role, with wildly inconsistent contributions offensively. He has not matched the offensive success he had in his first two seasons with the Heat.

The Lakers soon will have a glut of guards with Lonnie Walker and Austin Reaves due to return from injury, and Nunn’s departure alleviates the logjam. Westbrook, Dennis Schröder, Patrick Beverley and rookie second-round pick Max Christie also have logged significant minutes when healthy this season.

The Lakers have given no definite timeline for Davis’ return, but coach Darvin Ham said Davis “looked great” in a full scrimmage last weekend. If he continues to improve, Davis could return during the Lakers’ upcoming five-game road trip, which begins Saturday in Boston.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Source: https://apnews.com/article/los-angeles-lakers-washington-wizards-new-orleans-pelicans-clippers-nba-2e4569ec57f8ca7071145e2528ab2706

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Report: NWSL to expand in Boston, Utah and California

The National Women’s Soccer League is close to expanding by three teams, which will be in Boston, Utah and the San Francisco area, according to a Friday report in the Wall Street Journal.

The women’s pro league previously indicated it would add at least two teams by 2024. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the franchises in northern California and Utah are set to start play next year, with Boston to join at a later date.

The NWSL did not confirm the report in a statement Saturday to The Associated Press, saying: “We remain engaged in our expansion process and are excited about our prospects. When we have news to share, we will do so.”

The NWSL has 12 teams, after Angel City in Los Angeles and the San Diego Wave joined the league last year.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Boston and Bay Area groups will pay about $50 million in franchise fees. The Utah team will pay a reduced fee because of a previous agreement struck when the Utah Royals folded in the 2020 season.

Before the NWSL draft earlier this month, league commissioner Jessica Berman said it would be “somewhere between days and months, more like weeks, when we’ll be in a position to share information” about an expansion.

“What I can say is that I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we have in front of us,” she added.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Former MVP Candace Parker to sign with champion Aces

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former two-time MVP Candace Parker announced on social media Saturday that she would sign with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

Parker spent the past two seasons playing for her hometown Sky, leading Chicago to the WNBA championship in 2021. She also won the 2016 title playing for the Los Angeles Sparks.

She posted on Instagram that Chicago would always be her home, but “my family’s home is on the west coast.

“To play for a championship close to home is the perfect situation for us. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey this summer in Las Vegas.”

The free-agent signing period begins Wednesday, and the Aces can’t comment until then.

Parker, a 6-foot-4 forward/center, adds to an already loaded lineup that includes reigning MVP A’ja Wilson, who also won the league’s top award in 2020. Wilson also was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Chelsea Gray was MVP of the WNBA Finals and Kelsey Plum MVP of the All-Star Game. Wilson, Plum and Jackie Young were All-Star starters.

Parker and Gray were teammates on Los Angeles’ 2016 title team.

The Aces traded one of their key pieces, two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby, to the Sparks on Jan. 21, creating speculation Las Vegas was creating salary cap room to sign a big-name player.

Parker, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year and the 2016 Finals MVP, certainly fits that bill. Even at 36 last season, she averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Sky.

“Candace has done so much for our franchise in her time here,” Chicago coach and general manager James Wade said in a statement. “I understand her reasons for wanting to be closer with her immediate family. We wish her nothing but the best. She will always be a part of the Sky family. We will celebrate her time here as she deserves.”

Losing her is a big blow to the Sky, who made the semifinals in last season’s playoffs before losing in five games to the Connecticut Sun. Kahleah Copper is the only starter under contract for next season, so the Sky could head into a rebuild.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball,” Parker posted.

Parker joins the Aces at a time the Women’s National Basketball Players Association said it wanted that organization investigated regarding allegations that Hamby made after being traded. She posted on Instagram she was “lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against” because she is pregnant with her second child.

The Aces still have not commented on Hamby’s allegations.

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AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Estrada, Hofstra end No. 18 Charleston’s 20-game win streak

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — This season, Hofstra has been a one-man show. This time, Aaron Estrada had some help as the Pride ended the nation’s longest winning streak.

Estrada scored 25 points, but just two in the second half, while Darlinestone Dubar added 18 as Hofstra had four players in double figures to knock off No. 18 College of Charleston 85-81 on Saturday — ending the Cougars’ 20-game win streak.

“That’s a really big for our program,” Hofstra coach Speedy Claxton said. “To beat a nationally ranked team on their home court when they’ve got it rolling like they do speaks volumes about our kids.”

Claxton saw a team effort to take down the hottest team in the country.

“It wasn’t just Aaron,” Claxton said. “He had a great first half, but we had other guys step up and make baskets or get rebounds when we really needed them.”

The loss ended Charleston’s spotless run that began after losing to then-top-ranked North Carolina on Nov. 11.

Hofstra, the CAA’s leader in field-goal shooting, used that to move past Charleston in the second half as it made 18 of 32 attempts. The Pride led 76-69 with 6:10 to play before the Cougars cut it to two points on Ryan Larson’s foul shots with 2:02 to play.

But Charleston managed just two free throws after that and missed all four 3-pointers they tried.

This is the second straight season the Pride have beaten a Top 25 team. A year ago, Hofstra defeated then No. 24 Arkansas 89-81. The Pride’s only other victory against a Top 25 team came against Southern Illinois in 1976.

Hofstra (15-8, 8-2 Colonial Athletic Association) beat the Cougars (21-2, 9-1) at their own game — 3-point shooting. The Pride were 11 of 22 from 3-point range and overall shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half.

Estrada, who had 23 points in the opening half, shredded the Cougars defense at will. Estrada was 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

“Estrada is a great player, hit a bunch of tough shots, especially in the first half,” Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said. “Hofstra is a very, very talented team. It’s not just Estrada. They were better than us tonight.”

Then Estrada took over. The CAA’s leading scorer at 21.1 points a game scored 16 of the next 24 points for the Pride, including four 3-pointers.

Ante Brzovic’s dunk at the buzzer gave the Cougars a 46-44 advantage at halftime.

Tyler Thomas had 17 points and eight rebounds for Hofstra.

Brzovic finished with 18 points to lead the Cougars.

BIG PICTURE

Hofstra: The Pride are on a roll in 2023. winning seven of their past eight games, including three in a row.

College of Charleston: The Cougars chances of receiving an NCAA Tournament at-large bid took a major blow with the loss to the Pride. Despite having the nation’s longest win streak for three months, Charleston will most likely have to win the CAA Tournament in March to advance to the NCAAs.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

The Cougars’ 20-game win streak wasn’t the only streak to end on Saturday. College of Charleston played 14 of its first 23 games at TD Arena to start the season and were a perfect 13-0 at home before facing the Pride. Charleston’s 13-game home win streak included three wins in the Charleston Classic. The Cougars became the first mid-major program to win the ESPN event, beating Virginia Tech 77-75 in the championship game. Charleston will finish the season playing four of their final eight games on the road.

POLL POSITION

Charleston’s first loss in nearly three months might drop the Cougars from the national rankings. They have been part of the last four rankings, entering at No. 23 before reaching No. 18 this past week.

UP NEXT

Hofstra returns home to play Towson on Thursday night.

College of Charleston starts a two-game road trip at Drexel on Thursday night.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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