It’s July 4th and while Lakers fans are waiting for their free agency fireworks, they might just settle for some sparklers at this point. The team has been fairly quiet since the market opened, making contact with Andre Iguodala (stayed in Golden State) and Ben McLemore (signed in Memphis), had multiple conversations with Rajon Rondo (still unsigned), and have met with Dion Waiters and George Hill — who are both still on the market.
Hill is the best name among this group for what the Lakers need. He’s a point guard in name, but more of a combo guard in skill set. He’s a fine lead ball handler who can initiate the offense, run P&R’s, and create shots for himself and teammates (though this is not his best strength, to be sure). He’s also a very good off-ball worker, someone who can make spot up jumpers, understands spacing, and knows how to attack a compromised defense when the ball rotates to him and the opposition is in scramble mode.
Defensively he’s also an excellent player. He offers good size and length, has a keen understanding of opposing team’s tactics and habits, tracks his man and gets to his help responsibilities fluidly, and competes hard on that end. Due to his size and smarts, he can guard either backcourt position and not be overwhelmed. He’s not an all-NBA level performer on that end, but everywhere he’s been he’s helped make his team’s defense a top third of the league unit and while that’s a team stat, I don’t think you can dismiss Hill’s role in making that happen.
In other words, Hill is exactly what the Lakers need on both ends of the floor. He complements Lonzo Ball wonderfully on the court, both in game and in his ability to shoulder some of the burden which would fall on the rookie’s shoulders. Off the court he can be a mentor and guide, someone who not only teaches, but serves as a sounding board for ideas and a partner in conversation about what works, what doesn’t, and how to turn mistakes into opportunities to be better the next time. These things have real value — especially since they come in the form of someone who is still very effective on the floor.
Hill offers something else too — he’s one of the last good options in free agency who actually makes sense for this team. Especially when you consider who I thought the Lakers would/could target in the first place and their strategy of chasing one-year deals in order to keep their 2018 cap space unbothered. Bargain bin/upside options like Justin Holiday, McLemore, and Michael Carter-Williams have been scooped up. Darren Collison signed with the Pacers. Shaun Livingston returned to the Warriors.
In other words, if the Lakers don’t sign Hill, I have to wonder what they’d really do to help fill the need they have in the backcourt. I’d imagine their choice will come down to either Rajon Rondo or Tyler Ennis (if free agency is the choice — they could still try to make a trade, but that is complicated). I won’t get into Rondo now, but let’s just say I hope I don’t really have to write that piece. We are familiar with Ennis and if he was the add, I’d read the news and go back to doing whatever I was doing the 10 seconds prior to that. So, yeah.
I don’t mean to frame this as the Lakers having to sign Hill. They can run the group they currently have now out there next year and call it a day. I don’t think that will be very successful, but the strategy the team is taking in terms of roster building and having (at least) a two year plan can lead to that. In the big picture, it may be better to be stagnant than to make an unnecessary addition. We only need to look at last summer’s signings for a reminder of how that goes.
Still, though, adding Hill would be a huge step forward — even if only a one year rental. The Lakers want to be better next year, they want their young players to grow, and they need players who can help cultivate the culture while contributing on the court in meaningful ways. Hill personifies that in more ways than any player left on the market. I’d love to have him.
Of course, this is a two way street and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give that more than a passing thought. I didn’t list Hill as someone who I thought the Lakers would target when I wrote my free agency primer because I did not think he’d be available or amenable to a one year deal. He is available now because the Jazz traded for Ricky Rubio. We still don’t know if he’ll sign a one year deal. At his age and with his injury history, it’d be wise of him to chase more long term security. And I’m sure that’s what he’s doing. If things work out for him on that path, then the Lakers lose out. It’s that simple.
Still, though, even these flirtations have my heart palpitating. So, here I am hoping the Lakers front office can do right by their leader’s name and pull a rabbit out of their hat.
Isn’t he friends with pg13 as well?
Clay Bertrand says
Well he’s in Sucktown now. So much for our hopes and dreams…….
Looks like you can start writing the Rondo piece Darius…..
Right when I read your post, I see on espn that Hill signs with the Kings. smh
81 Witness says
Collison still available. I like him better over Rondo. We can pick up Collison at $5-6M yr. I like Waiter, but unsure he signs at $12M/yr.
Clay Bertrand says
Collison signed for $10 Mil a year!!! 2 years $20 Mil with the Pacers……..
Collison signed with Indiana
Collison took a 2-year deal, $20 million with the Pacers
3 yrs for 57 mil. As noted, Hill was looking for the long term security that the FO is not willing to offer for obvious reasons. I’ve never been a fan of Rondo’s, but I have a feeling that, when it’s all said and done, I’ll have to end up tolerating him for a year.
Hill was 31 and played 49 games last year due to an injury that may linger. He would only come to the Lakers on a one year deal if he had no other longer term options. Yet the board was hyping him as the missing piece of a championship run.
I get that this FO wants to win big but the sins of Jim/Mitch can’t be undone in one off season. Focus on adding to the core and on players who can help us beyond a single season.
I’d love the Lakers to have Hill for many reasons–but I might be happier with Tyler. We could then add Robinson with cap room space to spare. Wekeep a core of players who know each other. Opportunities could still come our way. I can’t over-emphasize how important it is to preserve cap space in these times.
I hope that the Lakers are continuing to explore creative trade possibilities to further address our future. For example, I could imagine the Lakers playing a “friend of the East” role in facilitating a Melo move to Cleveland. The Lakers could send Deng and Brewer to the Nicks and Randle to Cleveland. Cleveland would send us Love and Frye. The Nicks would get two playable veterans, immediate cap relief, then further relief when Brewer’s contract expired; Cleveland would get a young asset. We’d suddenly have a competitive team this year in the West.
This kind of deal is not wild eyed crazy in the wild eyed crazy negotiating world of this free agency–it’s possible–and I wouldn’t have believed it two weeks ago!
lil pau says
Woj reports Hill’s deal 3 years, 57M. As much as I wanted him, the Lakers simply can’t match this given what might be lurking on the horizon in the next off-season. I mean, what should they have countered at, 1 year for 25M? Not going to happen.
No Rondo please.
Just found out about Kings deal: good for George Hill. This is the kind of deal he should be getting at this point in his career–the kind of deal he wasn’t going to get in Utah.
It’s exactly the kind of deal the Lakers shouldn’t be offering.
Seems like so far, the Lakers are staying on the fairway and avoiding the rough. They didn’t want to land in that sand trap–but there are others. So far, looks like an eagle, birdie, or par.
Collison signed with Indiana.
Old Timer says
Back to Rondo or Waiters. As I said perhaps, Rondo has changed persona, he is a good mentor to Alonzo who has reached two Finals and Championship. If the experiment fails then they have Tyler Ennis as 3rd Pg.
Chris J says
Hell. No. Rondo
Terry Rozier may be a a good get. Boston may need to trade him to free up room to sign Hayward. He is 6’2″, young active on the defensive end and still on his rookie contract. If we can absorb his salary without sending anything back, it may get us a cheap option to fill out the backcourt.
Rick in Seattle says
The loss of Hill is disappointing. But, at the same time it’s hard to blame Hill (at age 31) for taking a 3-yr contract at $19 mil per. Although most of us agree Hill would have been a really good fit with the Lakers, I’m sure the front office is already moving on to other options….
Incidentally, according to Keith Smith (whoever he is), “Nick Young really rehabbed his value last year with a strong season for the Lakers. He is now seen as an asset around the league”.
Interesting comment. but I think it really reflects well on the Lakers coaching staff under Walton.
A year and a half ago, I felt that Young had no remaining trade value whatsoever. He was the biggest waste on the Lakes team. But, under Walton, he completely changed his game & focus, and now I’m sorry he did not stay another year. Kudos to the Walton coaching staff.
To carry this thought one step further, I will simply suggest this: While players like Rondo & Waiters certainly have flaws, if they can similarly buy-in to the Walton playbook (as Young did), then I think there is still some available talent to invest in. Young showed he was a player capable of change, and under the right coaching, other players could be as well….
Final thought: On the Basketball Insiders website, Eric Pincus lists the Lakers cap space at $22.6 mil. That appears to be is a gross figure, from which the Lakers must deduct their 3 guaranteed 1st round picks (Ball, Kuzma, Hart) who have a total cap hold of $9.1 mil. Also, until Nick Young is either renounced by the Lakers or signed by another team, the Lakers have his cap hold of $10.3 mil, plus three smaller cap holds.
Due to these continuously moving factors, it is a bit confusing to arrive at an exact cap figure, But one authority recently put the Lakers usable cap space at around $16 mil. With Sacramento offering Hill $19 mil per, there was just no financial way that the Lakers could sign him, unless he was willing to take a discount.
I not trying to justify the loss of a really good prospect (Hill), but rather just saying that there are other usable options still available. As several have accurately pointed out, avoid the first week of free agency because that’s when most players are over-paid (as we saw with Deng & Mosgov last year). Therefore, as the Lakers enter weeks 2 & 3 of free agency, better value will likely appear and I suspect that is what Magic & Pelinka are very aware of.
Have a safe and responsible 4th of July, everyone!
Darius meant “Jorge Hil,” the well-known Dutch point guard…;-D…
I just read from ESPN “sources” Jamal Crawford has interest in a contract buyout and playing for the Lakers. That signing would be a blessing. He provides most of what is outlined above with George Hill, with less defense but more shot making/creating ability. Crawford is an absolute pro’s Pro for the young guns to learn from
Crawford wants the Lakers to pick up his full contract (approx $14 mil) with a $3 mil buy out next year. The buy out may make any deal problematic as the Lakers are trying to save every dime fir PG and another max player.
With the Lakers being as noncommital as they have been I believe the Lakers will wind up signing Rondo.
I too was pulling for Hill. None of the other options left are very appealing. I would rather give time to the young players and take lumps for another year. If they brought anyone in who was good, I would be cranky that it was only a one year rental. Anyone else just takes minutes away from players who could be learning at the NBA level. Thanks for the write up anyway, it looks like Sacramento does not want to be a punching bag again next season.
George Best says
R O N D O
R O N D O
And Rondo was his name o.
Old Timer says
At present, the Lakers have only 12 players signed. they need guards rumored with Waiters, Rondo, Ennis and Crawford. What do you think Tim Hardaway Jr. who a great season with Hreat averaging 14 PPG?
I think the Lakers will sign Rondo, Which might make sense, it took the Lakers 2 years to start experimenting with Russell at the 2. Lonzo could be another retread of Russell that I see moving over to the 2 and suddenly having another starting PG makes sense.
Yet, I would be happier to see them bring back Ennis and even Robinson. One of the big criticisms of the last F.O. was uncovering a few diamonds in the rough and letting them walk away for essentially cap space. I think Ennis and Robinson played well enough and we aren’t talking about big money to bring them back.
Minor Threatt says
The last guy left in UFA (not counting Waiters, who almost certainly goes back to Miami now) who does anything close to what we need is probably CJ Miles. A cut-rate 3&Der who can shoot from deep and play competent defense. Can’t really run the point. Has never really gotten the big payday; opted out of $4.7m next year from IND (where he played with you know who) to test the market.
Although I’ve seen no rumors at all linking him to the Lakers – there was a story today about the Hawks (!) being interested – he does seem like a guy for whom a big one-year offer and a probable starting gig (to build value for next summer) might be attractive. I’d certainly prefer him to Rondo or Crawford.
I started to take a look at Rondo`s recent stats. One thing that stands out is his poor record at the line over many seasons. Must be the worst of any PG who has played 5+years. A 6`1 PG has to be at least 70%+ with any kind practice and effort. He`s been with a few teams,and no coach has been be able to improve his %?
Renato Afonso says
As a former terrible free throw shooter (way less reps than NBA players, obviously) I can tell you that it’s mental. Some guys can hit 80 to 90% in practice and fall to the low 60’s in game. Fatigue, not wanting to let your team down, etc. Plenty of reasons for that…
After the failed attempts to sign a G,I`m leaning to re- signing Ennis and finding a 3 who can shoot,and also play some SG if needed.
Lakers need to find a way to get Pierre Jackson from the Pistons. There isn’t a guard with more value/upside. He is an incredible leaper/finisher at the rim, makes excellent passes, has a high assist/TO ratio, and can score at a very high rate, playing the 1 or the 2 equally well. He is small, but he gets a lot of steals. I think he would be a great fit for the Lakers.
Celtics are reportedly looking to dump some contracts that might be more interesting than what is on the free agent market to make room for Hayward.
Nick Young a Warrior … reported that he signed for about the discount KD gave the orgn.
It’s a one year deal for $5.2 million. Happy as I am for him, I was hoping he would be reunited with DAR in Brooklyn.