It’s indeed come to this for Lakers fans – desperately trying to find glory in any moves made by the front office. Well for right now, acquiring Roy Hibbert from the Indiana Pacers and agreeing to a deal with Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams will have to suffice.
The former Pacers center experienced a precipitous drop-off that warranted them making him available in trade conversations, especially with the new small ball strategy the team wants to employ. His $15.5 million salary will come off the books at the end of the season, so the Lakers pulled the trigger and will be looking for him to provide some help in the middle.
It wasn’t a bad move on their part, but the combination of bringing on a player who has seemingly fallen off the face of the Earth and whiffing on the big targets in free agency yet again has many wondering whether the Lakers will ever find a way to climb out of this hole.
With Kobe Bryant set to return next season following season-ending shoulder surgery, the team will have a fresh start with a new group of young players headlined by the highly touted D’Angelo Russell and a promising Julius Randle. Williams will provide some veteran scoring off the bench.
Hibbert comes in looking to get back to form from a few years ago, and many fans are looking at the change of scenery as something to hold onto. Back in the 2012-13 playoffs, Hibbert averaged 17.0 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for an up-and-coming Pacers team. He shot a respectable 51 percent from the field and 80 percent from the charity stripe. With this sample size being just 19 games, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wholeheartedly believes in his ability to duplicate this, but the Lakers are hoping he can come close to it in a contract year on a team bereft of talent in the post.
Even if the offensive production doesn’t return to form, his impact as a rim protector should be a big plus for a Lakers team that was awful defensively last season. Opponents shot just 42.6 percent at the rim against Hibbert this past season, per SportVU, so his presence down low should help Los Angeles improved upon a 29th ranked defense.
The two-time All-Star comes into a situation where the team is in rebuilding mode, so there’s not a great deal of immense pressure on him to perform for that reason. But with this being a contract year for him, he’s cognizant of the fact that he’s being scouted for his next deal. This is a low-risk, high-reward type of move because it appears all the Lakers gave up was a second-round draft pick (details are still being finalized on the deal).
If the situation becomes disastrous, perhaps Los Angeles looks to move Hibbert by the trade deadline to try to get any value out of him they can. Getting any type of asset in a Hibbert trade would be ideal, especially when the Lakers would also look to include Nick Young, a player they’ve been trying to move.
The best-case scenario is that Hibbert performs well and becomes a reliable option for the Lakers, and then they’re able to lock him up to a long-term contract. With the salary cap soaring over the next few years and Bryant’s contract coming off the books, a roster ripe with young talent and a rejuvenated Hibbert would be music to the ears of potential free agents, or at least you’d hope.
At this point, there’s not too much the Lakers can do. Their inept organization seems to be trapped in quicksand. George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol and now … Roy Hibbert. Sounds so beautiful, don’t you agree?